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Last Thursday evening, members of the D.C. Democratic State Committee met and elected four delegates and various other party positions. In the hottest contest of the night, Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr.—-a Hillary Clinton supporter at the time—-edged out Barack Obama backer Miriam Sapiro by two votes.
Now, despite the close tally, no one has challenged the results. However, because of the politiciking behind the scenes, several folks—-including LL—-were interested in inspecting the ballots for various reasons, perhaps to see where party members’ loyalties lay or to thank members who supported a particular candidate. Having the ballots open to inspection is a practice that had been extended to the public in the past.
Well, not this year. The ballots have gone missing.
Committee spokesperson David Meadows said yesterday that the ballots “got mixed up, and somebody threw them away….From what I understand they were mistakenly trashed.”
What are the rules concerning the ballots? No one seems to be able to point LL toward a particular rule mandating that ballots be kept for a particular period of time. However, several committee members are hold that the trashing violates well-established party doctrine that there be no secret ballots at any point in the delegate selection process after the public primaries.
DCDSC chair Anita Bonds denies that any rules were broken by discarding the ballots, saying there was no provision in the local delegate selection plan for preserving the ballots. “It didn’t occur that we should be creating some sort of special rule for counting and handling of the ballots,” she said yesterday.
In fact, she says, there’s no saying where the ballots are: “The box may actually be in a corner somewhere; I don’t know.”
Could there be an ulterior motive? Well, those folks who didn’t get with the Obama ticket and voted for Thomas over Sapiro might have been in for some backlash from the Barack camp that they can now easily avoid. (Read tomorrow’s LL for more on that.)
Former DCDSC member Phil Pannell says that standard practice in the past was to keep the ballots for at least 30 days following these sorts of elections.
Pannell sent a letter to committee members decrying the loss of the ballots. The committee, he wrote, “should never be in a situation when DCDCS election ballots are not available for public review…..Democrats have a right to know how they voted….For the Democrats in DC not to have the opportunity to review the April 3rd ballots is not only unfair, it is an obscene outrage.”