Inconsistencies in voting records have led defeated Ward 5 Council candidate Philip Blair Jr. to claim that the city broke the law by certifying its primary results. The Brookland resident wrote the elections board yesterday asking whether ballots were accounted for by a process outlined in D.C. law. If the ballots weren’t checked, he asked, then why was the count made official?
His letter follows an announcement that the Board of Elections and Ethics would act on his previous complaints and investigate missing votes in his ward. Blair previously checked poll books and found that of 139 voters from his party, the Statehood-Greens, only 89 votes were counted.
He tracked an even bigger loss of Republican votes. While that party had no contested races in the ward, 335 voters showed up. Just 202 votes were recorded.
He filed three complaints about the missing votes. Because the investigation into those complaints has just started, BOEE representatives refused to comment, but the board’s general counsel told The Washington Examiner yesterday that the missing votes likely were transferred to the Democrats through the confusion of elderly pollworkers.
Blair now wonders whether Ward 5’s primaries should have been certified at all. His new questions rely on a section of D.C. elections regulations that states “a full accounting of official ballots shall be made prior to certification of the official election results.” That full accounting, he says, should mean ensuring that the number of ballots issued matched the number of ballots cast, the number of cards exchanged for ballots (plus special ballots) matched the number of voters, and so on.
Blair wants to know if the board actually does these things, and if so, how it keeps track of them. “In fact, these records would mean that much of the investigative work requested in my three previous complaints has already been done,” he writes.
Carolyn Steptoe beat Blair 40-33 to represent the Statehood-Green Party in Ward 5 council elections. After his loss, Blair considered challenging the election, but the city took its time giving him a CD-ROM database of voting rolls. That’s why he started combing the paper records.
“It takes a while, but you know, you gotta drown your sorrows somehow,” Blair said. “So I had drugs, drink, or poll books, and I chose poll books.”