New Gray aide voted in D.C., lived in Md.

September 2, 2011

Andi Pringle, the new deputy chief of staff to D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray, voted in the District’s primary election last year even though she had moved to Maryland.

The voting irregularity was revealed Thursday by community activist Dorothy Brizill on the Web site dcwatch.com. Brizill is known as a government watchdog and is considered well-versed in election law.

“Anyone who has been in the District for a long time is concerned about people voting from outside the city,” she said. “It came to have a name, as voting from Ward 9.”

Brizill said that she routinely checks the voter registration of new government hires and that she was “somewhat shocked” to learn the information because Pringle and new chief of staff Chris Murphy were announced this week as a fresh start for the Gray administration.

Gray (D) has been criticized since taking office for poor vetting of staff and other issues. Brizill questioned the vetting of Murphy and Pringle “if I can do this in 15 minutes.”

Pringle, who lives in North Bethesda and is not registered to vote in Maryland, said in a statement: “In September 2010, I voted in the D.C. primary with the understanding that since I had not severed ties with my community nor established residency in Maryland, I should vote at the precinct where I had voted for the past eight years. If this was in error, I apologize.”

Pringle said she plans to move back to the District. A Howard University graduate, she previously lived in Ward 3. She said she moved to Maryland 18 months ago.

Brizill filed a formal complaint Friday with the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics challenging the legality of Pringle’s vote.

In the complaint, Brizill wrote that Pringle should have known better, considering her background as a political consultant who has worked on local and national campaigns.

“In that capacity she would be expected to have gained familiarity with basic election laws and practices — for example, that only duly registered voters can vote, and only in the jurisdiction where they live, and that a voter’s possible intention to move into a jurisdiction at some time in the future does not give a voter the right to vote in that jurisdiction more than a year in advance,” Brizill wrote.

The Corrupt Elections Practices Act, which Brizill cites in her complaint, says a person who votes and makes “false representations” about qualifications could face up to a $10,000 fine and/or five years in prison, if convicted.

Alysoun McLaughlin, spokeswoman for the elections board, said the board is looking into the matter. She said that if infractions are found, the board will refer the matter to the U.S. attorney’s office.

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