October 16, 2013 | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Committee voids election of gay official as head of Ward 6 Dems
Jeffrey Richardson, gay news, Washington Blade, Ward 6

Jeffrey Richardson formerly served as mayor’s GLBT liaison. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The D.C. Democratic State Committee ruled on Oct. 11 that the Oct. 1 election of gay activist and city official Jeffrey Richardson as president of the Ward 6 Democratic Committee should be voided on grounds that eligible voters were denied the right to vote.

Richardson is director of the Mayor’s Office of Volunteerism and is the former head of the Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs.

The decision calling for voiding the election and calling for a new election came in an eight-page “Report and Order” dated Oct. 14 and signed by State Committee Chairperson and D.C. Council member Anita Bonds (D-At-Large). The report says the ruling was in response to separate challenges contesting the election by gay ANC Commissioner Alexander Padro and Democratic Party activist Sheila White.

The ruling calls for voiding the election of the entire slate of Ward 6 Democratic officers elected at the Oct. 1 meeting.

Padro and White stated in their challenges that they and others were misled by public notices announcing the election. They said the notices announced the election would be held during an Oct. 1 meeting scheduled to take place between 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Instead, according to the ruling, those attending the meeting adopted “Rules of the Day” that “substantially reduced the anticipated voting time from 90 minutes to approximately 10 minutes.” The ruling says the only way potential voters could have known about the restricted voting time would be for them to have been present at the start of the meeting.

“The reduction of voting time unduly disenfranchised Ward 6 Democrats and ultimately resulted in the denial of the opportunity for certain Ward 6 voters to exercise their constitutional right to vote,” the ruling says.

Charles Allen, president of Ward 6 Democrats up until the completion of the election, told the Blade the procedures used for holding the election were consistent with the organization’s bylaws. He said the procedures and rules for the election were submitted to the State Committee in advance of the election and no one raised any objections.

Allen said he chose not to seek re-election. On Tuesday he announced his candidacy for the Ward 6 D.C. Council seat current held by Tommy Wells. Wells is giving up the seat to run for mayor.

Richardson did not respond to requests by the Blade for comment.

Chuck Burger, a Ward 6 Democrats member who won election on Oct. 1 as 3rd Vice President, disputed the State Committee’s ruling that the election was flawed.

“We are standing by our election,” he told the Blade. “We conducted our election according to our by-laws.”

Those familiar with State Committee rules said the State Committee may not have authority to force a ward Democratic committee to void an election and hold a new election. But the State Committee could refuse to certify the election and refuse to seat Richardson or another Ward 6 Democrats member as a full member of the State Committee, which serves as the governing body of the D.C. Democratic Party.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

2 Comments
  • Ok Mr. Burger have you read your bylaws. I would think not considering that election was to take place in Jun of 20111 and June of 2013 which did not happen under CM hopeless Mr. Allen. So please don’t start off your political career with lies already.

  • Points of Information.

    The Ward 6 Dems have the right to meet and elect officers. No one disputes that and the DC Democratic State Committee (DCDSC) cannot stop them. That said, in addition to not seating the four Ward 6 seats on the DCDSC, the DCDSC can rescind the Ward 6 Democratic Party's charter and award it to another Ward 6 Democratic group which gives the new group the four state committee seats. Finally, the DCDSC's nuclear response is to cancel the challenged officers membership in the DC Democratic Party. That means the challenged officers cannot vote during local Democratic party caucuses and primaries. They would be able to vote during General Elections.

    This happened to Indie Council member David Catania who was kicked out of the DC Republican Party by the former DC GOP chair & DC Log Cabin president Robert Kabel. Catania did not lose his membership in the National Republican Party. I do believe he eventually quit the National GOP party or rather, "The GOP Party left him".

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