As one of 503,000-plus registered D.C. voters, I crossed my fingers that surely city officials would get the mailers for absentee voting right.
After all, there is a presidential election in November, the city held its primaries and special election for a D.C. Council seat in June, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to scare the Dickens out of voting-rights folks, and Democrats have run the city since 1964, when they voted in their first-ever presidential election.
Add to all that the fact that D.C. Board of Elections sent registered voters a mailer with the incorrect date for the June 2 primary and, well, you’d think every elected and high-level official in City Hall would ensure access to fair elections.
The latest voting access problem occurred this week, when the elections board sent mailers saying the board will be mailing ballots for the 2020 General election to all registered voters in the District of Columbia, and that “it is important that your voter information is accurate and up-to-date.”
Fair enough, right?
First, the board required voters to fill in the blanks on the mailer with their name, address, phone number and signature if, say, they had moved. So you can imagine ID thieves grinning from ear to ear, below a cartoon-like bubble sayiing, “The idiotic government did it again.”
Here’s another thing: Voters who are blind or have seeing-eye issues can’t even read the devilish details, including the phone number you’re directed to call “if you have any questions.”
Hold on, that’s not all.
There are two different ZIP codes for the board on the mailer. One is 20003 and the other is 20077. Which is correct? Will two ZIP codes staring mail sorters and letter carriers in the face delay voters’ verification and/or absentee or mail-in ballot requests?
The kicker is a doozy. Voters do as they are told, fill in the blanks by writing down their personal info for all roving and thieving eyes to see and are set for send off. Then — wait for it — they discover another major snafu. If they tear along the perforated dotted line, crucial info gets disconnected.
The election board’s suggested correction? Tape it or staple it. (Tax deductions for buying a roll of tape or stapler and staples are nowhere to be found on D.C. tax returns.)
Seriously, the District government’s literacy and common sense rates are dangerously pitiful. Perhaps that’s why City Hall depends on the federal government and tailgates other states — yet boasts a “shadow” congressional representation in the push for statehood.
The elections board says it’s too late to properly design requests for absentee ballots and verify their voter registration.
Considering the District’s voting history, the Joseph R. Biden-Kamala Harris ticket has its D.C. Electoral College votes in the bag.
Still, for independents, Libertarians, Republicans and other registered D.C. voters, it’s not too late to send up prayers for safe, fair and secure access to the polls as a way to show appreciation of the blood, sweat and tears shed on behalf of U.S. and D.C. voting rights.
• Deborah Simmons can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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