The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics, after a seven-week delay, yesterday certified the election of most of the advisory neighborhood commissioners in Wards 1 through 4 chosen in Nov. 3 voting, and promised to certify all other ANC winners no later than Jan. 4.
Despite the delay of nearly two months, Albert J. Beveridge III, chairman of the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics, said the city had done "about as good as could be expected under the circumstances."
"Let's face it, this last election did not go real well," Beveridge explained yesterday. "Considering what happened on election day and other problems, I think we did reasonably well."
The city has 36 ANCs made up of a total of 364 representatives from single-member districts. The ANCs were created five years ago as government-sanctioned grass roots political organizations designed to give citizens more clout in city affairs.
The long delay is not unprecedented. It took nearly five months to certify all the winners of the 1977 ANC elections. The final 21 victors were certified in April 1978.
Beveridge said that the delay in certifying ANC results this year was partially because a new group of election officials was in charge of administering the balloting and because candidates were allowed two weeks to file objections to unofficial returns rather than the usual five days.
However, the biggest problem, Beveridge said, was an error-filled registration list that led to numerous ballot mix-ups.
About 3,000 voters who were not listed on the computer tape were allowed to cast ballots anyway, Beveridge said, but election workers had to cross-check each of those voters' names to make sure they were registered before the votes could be officially counted.
Another problem in certifying winners for the ANC seats was that, just as in most ANC elections, there were a large number of write-in votes, Beveridge said. Every ANC race had at least one write-in candidate and some had as many as 50.
For example, Shari B. Kharasch, a former elections board chairman, won a seat on the ANC that includes the 2900 block of Upton Street NW. She ran unopposed, yet there were 17 write-in votes cast for that job and most of those votes were for different people.
"Every write-in vote has to be recorded and listed even if it is one vote for just one person and that takes time," explained Barbara Coy, who is overseeing the ANC certification process.
There also were 11 ANC elections in Wards 1 through 4 that were tied, Coy said. "We had to contact both candidates and draw lots. In quite a few races we also had write-in candidates who won and that meant we had to contact them to see if they wanted to accept the position."
"In the future, the city might want to consider some other way of handling ANC elections," Beveridge said. "There are so many--364--separate elections and so many write-in candidates that it might be better to use caucuses or a postcard-type ballot."
Within the next three weeks, the election board plans to begin cleaning out its voter registration list that contains more than 280,000 names, Beveridge said.
"We've got to get rid of duplicates and drop voters who are no longer in this area so that by the next election, we will not have the sort of problems that hit us during the last," he said.