In the midst of disinformation campaigns and Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, the D.C Board of Elections managed to provide its own disinformation campaign. Despite the fact that the correct dates are now emblazoned in red on their website, they have yet to disclose how no one caught this mistake. Although its not comparing apples to apples, it’s easy for opponents of statehood to use any opportunity to question the districts competency when they can’t get their primary dates correct. Although this screw up would more accurately fall under “misinformation” since there is no proof that the there was intent, the results would still be the same.
The magnitude of the mistake is twofold. The first issue is that 25,000 voters or 5% of the voting population were impacted. Five percent may not sound like a lot but when you look at the results from the 2018 primary election 25,000 votes would have been enough to change the outcome of all but a handful of races. Most notably any number of city council seats. When you factor in a city as heavily democratic as DC winning a primary is tantamount to winning the general election.
The second factor is voter confidence. Voter disinformation or even misinformation is a serious problem. Erroneous polling dates and places have long been a tactic to suppress voter turnout. This tactic goes back decades and serves as one of the major injustices of the civil rights movement, It’s even more chilling when you consider that March 7th will represented the 55th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” when blacks were brutally beaten as they tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge to register to vote.
In a city with rapidly changing demographics, and finally out of the shadow of financial mismanagement and government corruption, or least partly, it would do the city well to get the small things right as it tries to reach for bigger accomplishments.
But if you think this is a one off mistake, it’s not. In 2014 the Board had a little problem with the city flag – see D.C. election board prints upside-down flag on voter guide ( In this case the election board printed ballets with the DC flag upside down (see below). The Washington Post reported that the Board’s initial response was that it was a “conscious ploy to generate voter interest in the election.” The executive director later admitted that the graphic was an error. Washington Post)