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Budget Voting: Turnout is usually pretty low in special elections to fill vacant D.C. Council seats. But this April’s election could set new records for fewest ballots cast even so—the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics says it can’t afford to open all 143 precincts in the city. Facing a $250,000 shortfall, the board is instead proposing to have two polling places per ward, for a total of 16, open for three days. We say just raise taxes to pay for more polling places. No representation without taxation! -4

Books-a-Million: Years ago, city officials in Baltimore—struggling for a motto besides “Heroin and syphilis!”—settled on “The City That Reads.” That lofty title has now been usurped by the District. A new ranking by Central Connecticut State University finds D.C. is the nation’s most literate city, ahead of Seattle, Minneapolis, and seven others in the top 10. The same study, though, also showed that people everywhere are buying fewer books and newspapers. Which means chances are good you haven’t already read about it somewhere else. +2

More than Meets the Eye: Hollywood blockbusters like Transformers 3 tend to set their budgets in tens of millions of dollar increments. So perhaps the movie producers don’t think a few thousand dollars worth of car repairs is a big deal. For a cash-strapped city like the District, though, every little bit counts. So news that the crash between a Metropolitan Police Department vehicle and a Transformers car did more than $42,000 in damage isn’t exactly welcome. Worse: The accident seems to have been MPD’s fault. Maybe the city can sell some popcorn to raise the money to pay the bill. -2

SnowMG: So far this winter, the District has missed big blizzards that dumped on points north. Could tomorrow change all that? Forecasters are calling for 1 to 3 inches of snow, starting in the late morning. Don’t expect local TV news to be at all tolerable. Do expect Vince Gray to be a little nervous if more snow arrives than is predicted. -1

Friday’s Needle rating: 62 Today’s score: -5 Today’s Needle rating: 57