A supporter of Democratic mayoral candidate Patricia Roberts Harris failed yesterday in an attempt to remove the name of D.C. City Council member Charlene Drew Jarvis, one of Harris' opponents, from the ballot.
The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics unanimously rejected a complaint filed by Michael Lane, a Harris volunteer, that contended that many of the signatures on Jarvis' qualifying petitions were invalid. The complaint was based on information prepared by Clifford Waddy, a paid member of Harris' campaign field staff, according to lawyers for Lane and the board.
Following the board's vote, Jarvis (D-Ward 4) charged that Harris' campaign had singled her out for a challenge because she was cutting into Harris' strength.
Harris is the leading Democratic challenger to Mayor Marion Barry, although she trailed Barry in recent polls. Jarvis received the support of only 5 percent of Democrats interviewed in a recent Washington Post poll. However, some political observers believe that Harris and Jarvis share in the support of well-educated, middle-class blacks.
"I see this as a deliberate effort to knock me off the ballot," Jarvis said. "If they want to beat me, beat me Sept. 14. Don't try to knock me off the ballot."
The election board has removed seven candidates for city offices from the Sept. 14 ballot after challenging the validity of signatures on their qualifying petitions.
"But Mrs. Jarvis is the only one to be challenged by a member of the public," said William Lewis, general counsel to the elections board.
A spokesman for Harris said yesterday that her organization had intended to inspect the nominating petitions of all the candidates for mayor but simply ran out of time. The spokesman also contended that Harris' campaign had been misled by the elections board into thinking it had more time than it did for filing challenges and that it had to rush its challenge of Jarvis to meet a new deadline.
"There remains only one way to adequately verify the validity of petition signatures and that is for the Board of Elections and Ethics to conduct a name-by-name check of all signatures against the list of registered D.C. voters," the spokesman said. "Only then can the public be assured that all candidates on the ballot have met the legal requirements for candidacy."
"The board's decision not to conduct such a review unfortunately allows legitimate questions concerning the validity of Mrs. Jarvis' petition signatures to persist," he added.
In a complaint filed last Friday, Lane challenged 2,000 of the nearly 4,000 signatures on Jarvis' nominating petitions after he reportedly compared the signatures with records of registered voters on file with the elections board.