Thursday, November 06, 2008

Questions About DC Voting Rolls

I was just reading about the growing controversy about voting irregularities in Alaska, stemming from the extraordinarily low number of counted votes in Tuesday's election. See here and here.

This made me curious about the numbers here in DC and I started looking at the figures. They're pretty interesting.

According to the DCBOEE, there were 426,761 registered voters in DC for the 2008 election. That seemed like a lot, given the population of the District, so I looked it up and in 2006 (the latest official estimate I found), there were 474,895 residents in DC aged 18 or over. That means that 89.9 percent of all residents old enough to vote were registered, which struck me as a very high number. (It also means that only 52% of registered voters actually cast ballots in this election, which I find surprisingly low.)

But those 474K residents also include a large number of foreigners who can't (legally) vote, as well as a big population of people who come to live and work in DC but keep their voter registration in their home states, plus people who have other impediments to voting. I don't know how many people that would be, but I'm guessing that if they were subtracted from the 18+ population, it would make voter registration close to or maybe even over 100%.

So just for comparison, I looked at the analogous statistics for Maryland, and it turns out that for the state of Maryland, only 73.6 percent of residents 18 and over were registered to vote this year. That's a pretty big difference.

There has been plenty of anecdotal evidence that DC voting rolls continue to list lots of people who are no longer resident here or who are dead, and the system (if you can call it that) for purging such people from the rolls are inadequate, to be polite. I think these
aggregate numbers tend to support this.

It has become very clear that there are serious problems with the voting systems throughout the country. We saw that at work here during the September primaries, and it's not evident that there has been any serious effort to resolve these questions. If you can't trust the elections, it strikes at the very basis of democracy.

We tend not to think about such things between elections, but maybe this is something we should press our elected officials on before the next one.

Just sayin'....

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At 11/08/2008 4:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what would take maryland or virginia two years to fix would take dc 10, at least.


At 12/03/2008 11:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In DC you are kept on the rolls even if you move out and register in another jurisdiction. You have to have your name taken off the rolls before the city will remove it. So long as you show your little white card, you can keep voting in DC (no picture ID, i.e., driver's license is needed). That's why you see cars will Maryland tags pulling up to vote in front of Shiloh. ...don't get me started on the number of cars with MD and VA tags who pick up kids at Seaton Elementary... Ray

At 12/11/2008 5:57 AM, Blogger Ruth said...


What's your e-mail address and/or the best way to get in touch with you? I'm doing some reporting on Shaw.

-Ruth Samuelson
Washington City Paper Staff Writer

At 10/31/2010 6:55 PM, Blogger BSmith said...

Let me guess Ruth...maybe a good story about how the racost elements are here to take down Shiloh or better yet how we are all in a conspiracy to make $hit up about Leroy Thorpe? Sorry but the City Paper has done jack $hit to deal with the underlying issues a church who has sat on real estate to "keep their parking spaces" while they monitor elections and hold rallys within the same walls as the church.

Sorry but one of the many skeptical residents who know what will be written well before you even begin to write.

Brian Smith
Shaw Resident

At 11/01/2010 6:14 AM, Blogger IMGoph said...

brian: you did notice that that message from ruth is two years old, and that she doesn't work for the city paper anymore, right?


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