It is not just the humidity and heat that is making D.C. feel like South Florida. Tuesday’s primary election for the D.C. City Council turned into a debacle after miscalculated results stemmed from a voting machine malfunction.
District election officials did not release official results in the Ward 2 Democratic primary Tuesday due to the problematic machine, but initial reports show that incumbent councilmember Jack Evans handily beat GW alumnus Cary Silverman.
Evans held 64 percent of the vote over Silverman’s 37 percent, according to unofficial results released by the Board of Elections and Ethics on Wednesday afternoon. As of press time, the official results had not yet been released, but officials said Wednesday afternoon that Evans would remain the victor.
Confusion arose over the unusually high number of write-in ballots reported, as well as discrepancies in the number of votes counted. At one point Tuesday night, the board reported that more than 9,000 Democrats had voted in Ward 2, which they later confirmed to be only around 4,000.
In the Evans-Silverman race, the board said there were 1,554 write-in ballots – a dubiously high number since election officials only counted 179 write-in ballots in the 2004 election. A later tally found the actual number of write-in ballots for this year to be 14.
Between 9:30 p.m. and midnight on Tuesday, the board announced at least four different sets of preliminary results. Although Evans appeared to have earned a comfortable victory, both he and Silverman demanded the board verify the results. Evans also appealed to Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, who endorsed Evans in August, for a review.
As of press time, Silverman had not yet conceded.
“Everyone wants confidence in the results and me more than anyone,” Silverman told The Hatchet Wednesday morning.
At one point around 3 p.m. Tuesday, election officials called Evans to personally remove an illegal number of signs outside the St. Mary’s Court voting station. According to election rules, a candidate can only have three signs on the ground and three in the air on any block.
About 13 percent of D.C.’s registered voters voted in Tuesday’s primary. Ward 2’s turnout was slightly higher than the average, with about 16 percent.
Foggy Bottom voters interviewed at polling stations including the Smith Center, West End Library and St. Mary’s Court vocalized their support for Silverman – partly because of Evans’ support of the University’s expansion. Many said they saw the personable Silverman as a welcome change from the often-distant politics of Evan’s 17-year incumbency.
“(Evans) has spent more time in Foggy Bottom today than he has in the last four years,” said Ellie Baker, former editor of the Foggy Bottom News and an area resident since 1963.
Foggy Bottom resident Antoine Cartwright said, “I know his politics. He has been here as long as I’ve been here, and I know he’s a good politician.”