- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 16, 2003

The ballot is set for the District’s Democratic presidential primary. But supporters of some candidates are complaining that they won’t be able to enter their preferences in the nonbinding contest.

“There is no write-in line because the parties design the ballots, and Democrats decided to not include write-ins four years ago,” Bill O’Field, a spokesman for the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics, said yesterday.

The party opened the primary to all recognized candidates and those who actively filed to be on the ballot. But five top candidates — Sens. Joe Lieberman, John Edwards and John Kerry, Rep. Richard A. Gephardt and Wesley Clark — removed their names last month amid questions about whether any contest should be held before the Iowa caucuses or New Hampshire primary, traditionally the first major events of the presidential-election cycle.

According to sources within the board of elections, at least two of those campaigns have asked about the nonexistent write-in option for the Jan. 13 primary.

“That’s incredibly amusing and hypocritical,” said A. Scott Bolden, chairman of the D.C. Democratic State Committee, when asked about campaign activists lamenting the lack of a write-in option.

“We have gotten a number of calls in the office from people who want to vote for Joe Lieberman or John Kerry,” said D.C. Council member Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat. “My response has been, ‘Why did your candidate drop out in the first place? It was a silly thing to do.’”

Absentee ballots being mailed out this week feature former Gov. Howard Dean of Vermont, the Rev. Al Sharpton, Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio, and former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois. Lyndon Larouche Jr. and six other minor candidates who filed the appropriate paperwork also are listed.

Mr. Bolden said local Democrats worked hard to avoid conflicts with the Democratic National Committee’s support of the Iowa and New Hampshire events as the first binding contests. They opted for the nonbinding vote in part to call attention to the city’s lack of voting congressional representation.

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, who represents the city’s 573,000 residents, has a vote in committee, but lacks privileges in the full House of Representatives. The city has no representation in the U.S. Senate.

“This will still be the only time a majority-minority population comes to the polls to vote on whom the Democratic nominee should be,” said D.C. Council member Adrian Fenty, Ward 4 Democrat.


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