The whispers began as soon as Ward 7 D.C. Council candidate Victor Vandell‘s yard signs started going up. Opponents had obtained information that Vandell, running as a Democrat, was actually a registered Republican until just before he moved to his Deanwood home in May 2006.

Technically, Vandell’s opponents are correct. An inquiry to the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics reveals that Vandell was recorded as a Republican until May 2006.

But Vandell says the whole thing is a big mix-up. “It was a clerical error” by the elections office, the candidate says. “I didn’t even realize I was registered as a Republican until I voted in 2004,” he says.

Vandell, who was not contemplating a run for office at the time, figured he’d clear things up before the next election. He took care of the “mistake” when he registered after his move.

“Check the records in the other places I have lived. Wilmington, Del., Baton Rouge, La., Rochester, N.Y., and Chicago before that,” says Vandell. “I am a lifelong Democrat.”

LL’s initial attempts to verify Vandell’s story came up dry. It turns out a lot of places aren’t as free with voter information as the District. The Delaware voter registration office told LL he’d have to appear in person to get the information. Next stop, Chicago.

“We have some momentum going,” says Vandell. “So [my opponents] are trying to exploit a mistake made by the elections board.”