City Desk

Jonetta Rose Barras Endorses Dorothy Brizill

Washington Examiner columnist and longtime Washington City Paper fave Jonetta Rose Barras today looks at the latest crusade of legendary D.C. activist Dorothy Brizill.

The highlights:

Founder of DC Watch, a government watchdog organization, Brizill pushed the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics to establish a hot line. She developed a survey and posted it on her organization’s Web site. She wants firsthand information from citizens about what they see at the polling places: Are there sufficient ballots; are the electronic machines working; and is there sufficient staff.

“What I want to do is go beyond a handful of impressions to get Joe Citizen’s actual experiences in trying to vote,” she says as she explains why she persuaded representatives from various organizations — the Federation of Citizens Associations, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the American Civil Liberties Union among others — to serve as election observers, monitoring actual vote counting.

Barras explains that while others focused on elections problems in battleground states, Brizill stuck to the recent elections snafus in her own city: "Brizill says she and others sprang into action hoping to determine exactly what is going wrong in the election process. 'It’s very difficult to construct after the fact what happened,' she adds."

So Brizill took to the streets on Tuesday, checking out various polling sites and later alighting on the elections board itself, to monitor the vote counting. Barras narrates what happened there:

While there is an agreement with the BOEE chairman to permit the team of observers, the board’s General Counsel Kenneth McGhie treats Brizill and others as if they are criminals — not taxpayers who fund his salary and the board’s operation. He even threatens to call the police. Eventually, four individuals are taken to the second floor of 441 4th St. NW to watch the counting.

“I have lost all respect and confidence in the Board of Elections, especially its senior staff,” says Brizill a day later.

Barras hits on an important question: Sure, Brizill is an awesome activist and she's done a ton of good for this city. But might the board have a point about perhaps not letting any old taxpayer into its offices while it's doing its most important work of the year?

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