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.