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Michael Brown On D.C. Ballot Despite Petition Challenges

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At-large Councilmember Michael Brown will be on the November ballot, despite two challenges.
Mallory Noe-Payne
At-large Councilmember Michael Brown will be on the November ballot, despite two challenges.

Incumbent D.C. Council member Michael Brown can stay on this November's ballot, the D.C. Board of Elections ruled yesterday. Brown survived a pair of challenges to his candidacy for the at-large seat on the council. One was from an opponent and the other from a local activist.

The ruling follows Monday's contentious Board of Elections hearing that ended with Brown campaign spokesperson Asher Corson and activist Dorothy Brizill — who filed one of the challenges — in a heated argument over accusations that the Brown campaign was writing bad checks.

Brizill and Brown's opponent, independent David Grosso, separately challenged whether Brown had gathered enough valid signatures to qualify for November's ballot. They claimed Brown's petitions were riddled with duplicates, ineligible signatures, unregistered voters and even forgeries.

The board reviewed the challenges and tossed out more than 1,300 signatures, but ultimately ruled that Brown made the cut, barely, clearing the threshold by fewer than 200 signatures.

"You've got an incredible amount of sloppiness, which leads you to think maybe there was a forgery," David Grosso said after the board's decision. "You have people misspelling their own names; how do you misspell your own names or put down the wrong address?"

Brizill, who has filed numerous petition challenges over the years, took aim at the Board of Elections itself.

"In some instances, the board can't count," she said. 

Political observers say knocking Brown off the ballot was Grosso's best shot at unseating the incumbent, a feat that hasn't happened during a general election council race in over a decade. Grosso maintains the board's ruling will not affect his chances.

"We never thought the hearing was serious," said Brown campaign spokesperson Asher Corson. "We never thought we were close to getting kicked off the ballot. We were never close to being kicked off the ballot, and the council member has been focused on talking with constituents and talking about talking about the issues."

Brown, who did not attend the hearing, criticized his opponents in a written statement Monday.

"This gamesmanship and shameless attempt to disenfranchise voters represents the most unethical kind of dirty politics," Brown said.

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