Earlier this month, LL was contacted by a new neighbor, Maria Fernandez. She had moved to D.C. over the summer and had registered to vote here in mid-August, she explained. Six weeks later, she still had not received a voter-registration card in the mail or any other acknowledgment that she had registered.
On Oct. 3, Fernandez called the board of Elections and Ethics to inquire about her registration, where she spoke to two board employees, including executive director Sylvia Goldsberry-Adams. Her conversations did not inspire confidence. The other employee, Fernandez says, “told me that they haven’t been able to do anything since the [Sept. 9 primary] elections, and they hadn’t done anything [and] for me to wait a little longer.”
Goldsberry, she says, “basically said, ‘We’re overwhelmed. We’ve got tons of stuff and we’re understaffed.’ She said, ‘Well, we can’t fix it for this election; we’ll fix it for the next one.'”
LL subsequently checked with the board, and spokesperson Dan Murphy assures LL that every person who registered prior to the Oct. 6 cutoff will appear on the voter rolls and should receive a registration card and voter guide in the mail. The cards, he explains, are generated automatically as voters are logged into the board’s computer system; they are mailed out, he says, at least once a week. Murphy says the board has indeed been processing an unusually high number of registration applications.
Under city regulations, the registration processing has to be completed in time to provide sets of voter rolls for public inspection in public libraries by next Tuesday, Oct. 21.
Murphy points out that you do not need your registration card to vote. Allow LL to repeat: You do not need your registration card to vote. And, he says, you can check your registration status online or call the board at (202) 727-2525.
What happens if you submitted a registration application and you never made it on the rolls? On election day, you’ll have the option of filling out a “provisional ballot” that would only be counted if
(a) your vote would affect the outcome of the race and (b) the elections board finds you eligible to vote.
If you registered to vote and haven’t received your card, tell us about it in the comments.
UPDATE, 10/21: LL erred badly to say that provisional ballots are only counted if they would affect the election outcome. Murphy says that provisional ballots are always counted, as long as the board determines that the voter is eligible. LL was unfortunately propogating a widely held misconception and he apologizes.