- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Sen. Bernard Sanders is back on the District of Columbia’s Democratic primary ballot, as the D.C. Council moved to clean up the mess made when the city’s Democratic Party failed to certify the presidential candidate by the deadline, putting him in jeopardy of being shut out.

The D.C. Council Monday in an unusual move modified city rules to allow the Vermont senator’s name to be on the June 14 primary ballot by retroactively allowing candidates an extra 24 hours after the filing deadline to have their candidacy certified. Mayor Muriel Bowser said she would sign the bill.

In the District, Democratic presidential candidates can appear on the primary ballot if they either collect a requisite number of signatures from residents or pay a one-time, $2,500 fee. Mr. Sanders’ team submitted the required $2,500 donation to the D.C. Democratic State Committee, but the panel did not notify the D.C. Board of Elections by the key deadline.

The registration deadline was March 16, but the party did not send the board Mr. Sanders’ registration information until the next day. Mr. Sanders’ paperwork was turned in by the 7 p.m. deadline on March 16, but since the D.C. Board of Elections closes at 5 p.m., it wasn’t certified until the following day. A Democratic activist then lodged a challenge against Mr. Sanders’ eligibility to appear on the ballot.

Only one member of the Council took issue with allowing Mr. Sanders on the ballot. Council member Vincent Orange, an at-large Democrat, said former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Mr. Sanders’ opponent in the primary, had both collected the necessary signatures as well as paid the $2,500 donation before the deadline, so it was unfair to bend the rules to aid one campaign.

“Hillary did both, Bernie only paid the money,” Mr. Orange said at the Tuesday Council meeting. “The Bernie Sanders campaign did not put people on the streets to collect signatures.”

Mr. Orange voted “present,” essentially abstaining from the vote. Council member Anita Bonds, an at-large Democrat who also heads the D.C. Democratic Party, recused herself from the vote.

The emergency measure will only be in place for this year’s primary election. The D.C. Board of Elections was set to make a ruling on the issue Tuesday. It is unclear whether the Council’s action will negate the need for BOE action. The board did not immediately return an email seeking comment.

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