D.C. elections board calls Zukerberg claims about voter rolls ‘wholly inaccurate’

February 26, 2013

The D.C. Board of Elections is pushing back against claims by council candidate Paul Zukerberg that city voter registration rolls contain tens of thousands of discrepancies and faulty addresses.

Zukerberg, an attorney who successfully repelled an effort to disqualify him for the April 23 special election, told the Washington Post on Monday that board of elections had to fail to account for 66,000 changes of address from registered voters.

Zukerberg is calling on the D.C. Council to investigate the matter, saying he was nearly kicked off the ballot because of the board is relying on faulty data that doesn’t include up-to-date addresses for many voters.

But in a statement, the elections board said Zukerberg’s claims are “wholly inaccurate and have absolutely no merit or basis in fact.”

“The District of Columbia Board of Elections takes very seriously allegations of faulty database systems and inaccurate data,” the statement said. “The Board is committed to administering the election process with fairness and integrity.”

Zukerberg, however, stands by his contention that District voter registration rolls are badly outdated. He provided to the Washington Post a spreadsheet that contains the names of 63,341 that he says his investigator determined did not have their addresses properly listed in voter registration rolls.

Zukerberg obtained an affidavit from Julian Kasten, an investigator with Corporate Mailing Services Inc, testifying he matched registration rolls with the National Change of Address database. Zukerberg claims the elections board needs to periodically match voter registration rolls with postal service records.

Angela Moss, a spokeswoman for the elections board, said Zukerberg’s charges are misguided. She said the elections board cannot change a voter’s address through postal service records.

“The database Mr. Zukerberg used is not an authorized address repository for the District of Columbia’s voter registration process,” said Moss, who added it is up to voters to change their address with the board or Department of Motor Vehicles when they move.

The dispute appears to center on different interpretations of District law.

The city elections code includes a provision requiring the board every odd year to “to confirm the address of each registered voter who did not confirm his or her address through the voting process.”

The code also states, “If the United States Postal Service returns the notice and provides a new address for the registrant within the District of Columbia, the Board shall change the address on its records and mail to both the old and new addresses of the registrant a forwardable notification that the address has been changed to reflect the information obtained from the United States Postal Service.”

Zukerberg said the board is failing to abide by that law. Ken McGhie, the board’s general counsel, argues the District is not required to use postal records.

“The use of the Postal Service National Change of Address program (NCOA) is an option permitted by federal law for maintaining the voter rolls but it is not required and a number of states including the District do not rely on it because the matches found have been later determined to be not a true match for a number of reasons,” said McGhie, noting change of address forms do not take into temporary moves.

Regardless, Zukerberg vowed to continue pressing his case against the elections board.

“The bottom line is, the lists needs updating,” Zukerberg said in an interview.

Tim Craig is The Post’s bureau chief in Pakistan. He has also covered conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and within the District of Columbia government.
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