- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Officials at the U.S. Postal Service yesterday disputed last week’s explanation by elections officials of why some D.C. residents never received voter guides in the mail until after the Jan. 13 presidential primary.

The voter guides were mailed out on Jan. 6 — a week before the primary, D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics Chairman Benjamin Wilson told D.C. Council member Adrian Fenty, Ward 4 Democrat, in a Jan. 22 letter.

“What the Board of Elections said wasn’t exactly true,” said Postal Service spokeswoman Deborah Yackley.

Miss Yackley said Postal Service records show that voter guides from the board were mailed out from Jan. 6 through Jan. 9. She said the elections board paid standard mail rates rather than the more expensive political rates, which would have ensured on-time delivery.

“We would have given it more speed if we were aware that it was a political mailing,” Miss Yackley said.

Mr. Wilson acknowledged in his Jan. 22 letter to Mr. Fenty that “mistakes occurred” when election results were delayed, and when some residents didn’t receive their voter guides in the mail until after the contest.

“We are already in the process of reviewing our election-worker training programs, as well as our election day procedures generally, in an effort to ensure that the events, which your constituents rightfully complained of, do not happen again,” Mr. Wilson wrote in his letter to Mr. Fenty.

“Despite our best efforts, some mistakes occurred,” he stated.

Mr. Wilson’s letter came in response to complaints from Mr. Fenty and other D.C. Council members about the elections board’s performance in the Jan. 13 primary. Mr. Fenty said his voters guide arrived in the mail one day late.

“While most voters received the ballot in a timely manner,” Mr. Wilson’s letter to the council member states, “some voters did not receive it prior to the election. Unfortunately, this occurred despite the fact that guides were mailed by January 6th, a week before the election.”

The late mailings were among several criticisms of the elections board in the days after the presidential primary election. D.C. Council members also were upset that the elections board did not report final results of the primary until after midnight.

Mr. Fenty said his office also received complaints that poll workers at Precincts 63 and 64 had prevented Republican and independent voters from casting ballots in the recall election of Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Paul Montague.

Mr. Montague was recalled by a 242-91 vote. Mr. Wilson said the outcome of the election would not have changed even if it were true that Republican, independent and other minority-party members had been turned away.

Mr. Wilson said there is no evidence that it had happened.

Mr. Fenty said Mr. Wilson’s letter doesn’t go far enough toward ensuring voters that the problems won’t be repeated.

“I think we need greater oversight,” Mr. Fenty said. “You don’t want what happened in the primary to ever happen again.”

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