District residents fretting about their absentee ballots could see their ballots delivered by hand or FedEx by Election Day as the D.C. Board of Elections scrambles because of Superstorm Sandy.
Wesley Williams, public affairs manager of the Office of Campaign Finance and a spokesman for the elections board, said Thursday that the board is sending some requested absentee ballots by mail and FedEx and is hand delivering others. The overnight shipping and hand delivery are unusual. “Because of the hurricane and the loss of two days because of it, the Board instituted these two options to expedite delivery,” he said in an e-mail.
The District government and D.C. Public Schools were closed Monday and Tuesday.
In response to the storm, the elections board has extended early voting by two hours through Saturday, the last day for early voting. Polling sites will be open 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., instead of 7 p.m.
The board has been getting complaints about the slow delivery of absentee ballots. Princess Whitfield, president of a voter’s league at the United House of Prayer for All People, said she struggled to get information about absentee ballots she requested for her and 12 residents about two months ago. Four people received their ballots by mail Thursday, but others, including Whitfield, are without the ballots.
“This is voter suppression,” Whitfield said, fearing that they will never get their ballots. “They’re saying, they’re promising to get them to us by Tuesday.”
Whitfield, a 75-year-old retired principal, said one resident is a college student living out of the city while most of the other residents are elderly and would prefer not to travel on Election Day.
Whitfield finally made a personal visit to the elections board office Thursday.
She decided she wouldn’t take any chances. “They gave me a provisional ballot,” Whitfield said. “I filled that out while I was there on the spot.”