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D.C. Corporate Contributions Petitioners: Elections Board's Math Was Wrong

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Bryan Weaver, who heads the D.C. Committee to Restore Public Trust, says the D.C. election board not only miscounted the numbers for their petition, but threw out perfectly valid signatures.
Patrick Madden
Bryan Weaver, who heads the D.C. Committee to Restore Public Trust, says the D.C. election board not only miscounted the numbers for their petition, but threw out perfectly valid signatures.

Activists behind the voter initiative to ban corporate donations in local D.C. elections have filed a complaint with a judge against the city’s board of elections. They will argue the D.C. Elections Board severely undercounted the number of valid signatures when it tossed out the group's initiative effort earlier this month, and are now fighting to get back on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The board on Aug. 8 ruled the group had failed to turn in enough valid signatures to qualify for November's ballot, determining that the organizers were short about 1,726 petitions.

The D.C. Committee to Restore Public Trust submitted more than 30,000 signatures, but the three-member board ruled that only 21,500 of those were valid, which meant the petition fell short of the 23,300 threshold.

But the committee has gone back to look at the city’s review and found the elections board's math was way off, says Bryan Weaver, who heads the D.C. Committee to Restore Public Trust. 

"We've actually been able to harvest 3,000 votes that were just undercounted by the board," he says.

That is, even using the city's definition of what was valid signature and what wasn't, the activists met the mark; the city just added the numbers wrong, the activists say.

The committee is also disputing hundreds of signatures that were tossed out by the city for having the wrong address or not matching the voter rolls, says Weaver.

"We went through every signature that the board had deemed as invalid, and we were able to pull out that over a third of them actually were valid signatures at the current address that were current voters," says Weaver.

The committee will ask a judge to order the elections board to hold an expedited hearing to review the complaint. They're also asking the court to order the restart of the initiative's certification process, so that if the group meets the signature threshold, it can still make the November ballot. Weaver says his group's review raises serious concerns about the integrity of the democratic process in local D.C. elections.

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