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Gray Calls Upside-Down D.C. Flag On Voter Guide A 'Complete Fiasco'

The D.C. Board of Elections sent more than 300,000 D.C. households a voter guide with an upside down D.C. flag on the cover.
Photo by Twitter user Alex Howard
The D.C. Board of Elections sent more than 300,000 D.C. households a voter guide with an upside down D.C. flag on the cover.

Mayor Vincent Gray is harshly criticizing the D.C. Board of Elections for mistakenly sending a voter guide to 300,000 households that had a upside-down D.C. flag on the cover.

"I thought sending out a voter guide with our D.C. flag upside down was a complete fiasco," he said at a press conference on Tuesday. "And then to say it was just an effort to get people's attention only added to the fiasco."

The voter guide was sent to D.C. households last week, and contains information on when, where and how to cast ballots — as well as who residents will be able to vote for.

Images of the inverted D.C. flag on the guide's cover quickly appeared on Twitter last Wednesday, and the following day officials at the elections board attempted to play the mistake off as a ploy to make voters pay attention. But in an email to D.C. Council member Kenyan McDuffie's (D-Ward 5) office, BOE executive director Clifford Tatum admitted that it was an error that had gone unnoticed.

Gray said that the upside-down flag only added to challenges faced by the board that are making him question whether it will be able to properly administer the upcoming general election.

"My faith has been tested severely," said Gray. "We saw what happened in the last election. I don't have a lot of evidence that I can point to at this stage that would lead me to have a lot of confidence on what's going to happen between now and Nov. 4."

On the night of the April 1 primary, technical issues delayed the reporting of results in the Democratic primary that Gray lost to Muriel Bowser. In an after-action report that was published earlier this month, the board said that some of the problems stemmed from outdated equipment, including voting machines that it says have to be replaced.

In the wake of the report, McDuffie, who oversees the board, said that the way the city administers elections needed to be evaluated and changed. Late last month, McDuffie asked the D.C. Auditor to perform a "comprehensive audit" of the elections board, which is an independent agency.

In a statement after the voter guide was sent out, McDuffie said that Tatum "must be held accountable." Tatum, who was meeting today with the three-person board that oversees the city's elections, was not immediately available for comment.

"We're both exceedingly concerned," commented Gray today, who said that he had spoken to McDuffie about problems at the board. "If you're asking me if I have a high level of confidence about what's going to happen, no," he said.

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