Elections bring promise and problems

Thurston Hall residents who voted in Tuesday’s Advisory Neighborhood Commission election may have been given ballots for the wrong single-member district, said ANC candidates and GW Votes Director Adam Siple.

Ed Meinert, a student who ran for ANC single-member district 2A05, which he said includes Thurston Hall, said he is contesting the election. Meinert lost by 45 votes to incumbent Dorothy Miller. He said he thinks the election results are not indicative of the actual voter turnout from his district, and that Thurston residents may have voted in the wrong district.

“I feel as though more students in Thurston Hall voted than were in the final election count,” Meinert said.

2A01 Commissioner-elect Richard Sheehey said some Thurston Hall residents were given 2A01 ballots, although he said that district does not include Thurston. Sheehey said the mistakes may have occurred in other residence halls as well.

A spokesman from the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics said Wednesday morning that Thurston is in district 2A01. However, Siple said he received voter lists by district from the BOEE, and Thurston Hall residents were on the 2A05 list.

There was an apparent miscommunication within the BOEE, as Robert Jammison, election operations administrator at the BOEE, later said the residents of Thurston Hall should vote in 2A05.

“If (residents were given incorrect ballots), I can’t explain why that happened, but it probably should not have happened,” Jammison said.

He said the confusion may have happened if students registered under the University name instead of the residence hall name. A large portion of the University is situated in 2A01.

Siple said he is not surprised the board of elections was confused about the district boundary lines.

“The districts are drawn up in such a way that they are so confusing to read and understand,” Siple said. “It is typical of the BOEE that you get different answers depending on what official you talk to.”

Sheehey said he thought Meinert’s chances may have been hurt because students were given the wrong ballot.

“Some Thurston residents wrote in Ed Meinert’s name on the ballot for my district because they knew he was their candidate,” Sheehey said.

Siple said students called him throughout the day Tuesday, saying they were given the wrong ballot. He and several other students called the board of elections to complain. Many of the students he spoke with realized they were given incorrect ballots and had them changed to the correct ballots, he said. He said he was unsure how many students, if any, did not realize they were given incorrect ballots.

Meinert said at least a few students told him they were given incorrect ballots. He would not elaborate though, citing the advice of a lawyer he has retained to consider contesting the race.

Officials at the BOEE said no formal complaints have been registered concerning the ANC 2A elections. Jammison said he doubts the results of the election will be thrown out and a new vote taken.

GW Assistant Vice President for Governmental Relations Bernard Demczuk said if students were given incorrect ballots, they were not allowed to vote accurately and must be given the opportunity to do so.

“The election committee has to determine if they were disenfranchised,” Demczuk said. “If there were enough of these disenfranchised students to change the outcome, the board (of elections) will have to make a determination (on what recourse to take).”

Demczuk said he hopes Tuesday’s incident does not discourage students from being active in the political process while at GW.

“What’s important is students stay actively involved,” he said.

-Matt Berger contributed to this report

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