The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics is expected to be asked tomorrow to seek criminal action against a WRC radio news reporter who allegedly registered her pet dog as an independent voter to illustrate flaws in the city's voter registration system, according to knowledgeable sources.
Donna Penyak filed the registration form last week on behalf of her dog, Sasha, the sources said. The elections board accepted the form and began to process it, according to the sources.One source said the dog was actually registered.
Later, however, the board learned that Sasha Penyak, whose signed registration form bore a Northwest Washington address, was a dog, the sources said. Now, the board is planning to ask that Penyak be prosecuted for willfully violating the city's election law.
If convicted, Penyak could be sentenced to up to five years in jail and fined up to $10,000. The registration form states in bold letters that fraudulent registration is illegal.
Penyak could not be reached for comment last night.
Elections Administrator Mary S. Rodgers said the board has no set procedure for verifying information, unless a card is incomplete. In that event, the prospective registrant is contacted.
If the form is complete, however, as Sasha's apparently was, the name is posted on the registry within 15 days, Rodgers said. "It's very difficult to verify anything," she said. "With mail registration, we don't know who's on the other end."
"I think this is an outrage," Rodgers said. "If people in that position (reporters) do these things what do we expect from other people?"
Rodgers said that last year someone registered to vote under the name of tennis star Arthur Ashe, but the board found out that the registration was a false one when the voter registration card was mailed out and returned.