June 9, 2020
Dear Mr. Bennett,
The DC Democratic Party is deeply concerned with the reported issues that occurred during the primary election on June 2, 2020. As the voice of DC Democrats, we are calling on the Board of Elections to create a concise process that addresses the reported issues and ensures that those issues are not repeated in the November general election.
Many voters were disenfranchised because of problems with this election. There were numerous complaints that people never received their absentee ballots despite requesting them before the deadline. The DC Democratic Party texted nearly 10,000 voters on election day and many of them raised this issue, along with frustration about encountering long lines at the reduced number of polling places.
On the day of the primary, some people found out that if they did not receive their absentee ballots, that they could vote online via email. This was not translated clearly to the public and led to misinformation and misunderstanding. Additionally, this attempt at a last-minute fix was not a secure form of voting, and raises further concerns about how last-minute issues in the November election will be handled.
To be clear, we are aware that the voting process needed to be adjusted due to a health crisis and other related challenges that were outside the control of the Board of Elections. We offer the following based upon feedback received from voters.
The DC Board of Elections needs to involve community groups to encourage voter participation efforts ahead of the November election. The level of distrust maligns the confidence in the basic processes involved with our democrattic practices.
To address these grave concerns, the DC Democratic State Committee highly recommends that the DC Board of Elections considers each of the following:
● Send out absentee ballots to every DC voter without them having to submit a request.
● Encourage all voters to vote early either by mail, ballot drop-off, or in-person.
● Make clear plans for voters who do not receive their absentee ballots.
● Be as transparent and public as possible about all plans and processes.
● Open all voting traditional sites to reduce large crowds for in person voting.
● Ensure that curbside voting is available at all voting sites during early voting and election
day in person voting.
The DC Democratic Party urges the DC Board of Elections to start planning for November now, and to share all plans for improvement with the public. We also encourage you to take as much advice and input from DC residents as possible.
During our General Body Meeting on June 4, we held a discussion on the problems we saw in the election, and brainstormed potential solutions. We passed a motion supporting the implementation of full Vote-By-Mail for the November election, which we encourage the Board of Elections to adopt.
Below are some of the comments made by DC Democratic Party members and attendees during our June 4th General Body Meeting.
From DC Young Dems Chair Jennifer Blemur: “DC is not a one size fits all city, we need multiple well-funded and well-executed voting options.”
From Brian Glover: “How can curbside voting work better in DC? We need more check-in clerks at the voting polls in DC. We had two in Deanwood Recreation Center and one was doing all the curbside voting.”
From Hazel Thomas: “I was disheartened that many people didn't get to vote until midnight. I also didn't get my ballot, although I requested it early. We need to review best practices and purchase better software well in advance of November's election. What happened on Tuesday was completely unacceptable.”
From Hazel Thomas: “So many of the typical volunteers in the election on Tuesday were older residents who didn't want to risk working the polls this time. We need to train a new generation of poll workers and volunteers!”
From Elizabeth Mitchell: “I think a huge problem with this election was that a large number of us were waiting at home for our mail-in ballots and never got them. Had I known it wasn’t coming and I could vote in person, I would have gone early. Requesting the ballot and then not getting one leaves you in a limbo.”
From Marlena Edwards: “Many of the Early Voting sights were new and not regular Early Voting sights. Individuals also went to their normal voting sights with no placards as promised by DCBOE outside of that sight stating where to go to vote.”
From Sonya Clay: “Mailing everyone a ballot should be the standard. I was not able to successfully request a ballot via the online platform. I tried several times.”
Thank you for your time, and we are looking forward to working with you to ensure the general election is as organized and issue-free as possible.
The DC Democratic Party