The right to vote is one of the most important aspects of modern democracy. Particularly in the District—the seat of our nation’s capital and where the importance of representative democracy is a rallying cry for self-governance—the government has a responsibility to ensure that elections are accessible, accurate, transparent, and efficient.
During the historic 2008 election season, though, the District faced several well-documented missteps, chief among them were problems with the District’s voting machines and insufficient numbers of ballots. In the aftermath of those missteps, Councilmember Cheh was tasked to chair a Special Committee to investigate the District’s elections process.
In 2009, Councilmember Cheh proposed the Omnibus Election Reform Amendment Act of 2009, which reflected best practices from other jurisdictions, innovations consistent with the District’s experiences, and recommendations from advocates, officials, and the public. Through enactment of this legislation, the District has taken a major step forward toward modernizing and professionalizing the administration of elections.
Among the reforms included in the legislation are the following:
- Substantive qualifications for nominees to the Board
- Same-day voter registration
- Minimum training requirements and performance measurement of pollworkers
- Pre-registration of 16-year old
- Allows 17 year olds to vote in primary elections if they are 18 at the time of the general election
- Creates a check-off on voter-registration forms for voters to indicate an interest in volunteering to work as a pollworker
- No-fault absentee voting
- Early voting centers
- Requires an automatic-voter-registration feasibility study
- Ballot reconciliation and accounting requirements
- Requirement that voting systems have voter-verifiable records in all District elections taking place after January 1, 2012
- Purchase of voting systems through use of a competitive contracting processes
- Post-election audit procedures
Election Reform Reports and Documents
Election Reform Hearing Webcasts