William Lewis, general counsel of the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics, told a City Council hearing Friday that the board could not conduct Advisory Neighborhood Commission elections this fall. A quote attributed to Lewis in Saturday's edition incorrectly implied that Lewis also was speaking of school board elections.
A proposal to postpone this year's elections in Washington received mixed reviews at a hearing yesterday, but several key officials said later they might support a compromise that would end odd-year contests in the future.
The D.C. City Council is considering an election reform bill that would reregister voters and put off several elections this year, including balloting for the school board and Advisory Neighborhood Commissions.
Elections officials say they need the time to clear up administrative confusion in their offices and to sort out tangled voter registration records.
"It's a simple fact of life that we are unable to conduct elections ," said William H. Lewis, general counsel and acting director of the elections office. Several of the city's elections have experienced major problems because of inadequate preparation and voter records.
Representatives of the League of Women Voters and the D.C. chapter of Common Cause testified for the election delay before the council's Government Operations Committee yesterday. Some council members said the city should eliminate odd-year elections to increase voter turnout and save money, but several elected officials opposed postponing this year's voting.
School board president David H. Eaton testified against delaying the school elections, saying he does not favor holding the nonpartisan school board contests at the same time as elections for other offices. After the hearing, however, Eaton said he may support a compromise proposal to elect school board members to three-year terms this November.
That would allow the terms, one year shorter than normal, to expire in 1986, eliminating odd year elections for those posts after that.
Six of the 11 school board members are up for reelection this fall, with the terms of the other members expiring in 1985. Those terms, all four years each, also would have to be altered at some point if odd-year elections are to be eliminated in the future
Council member Betty Ann Kane (D-At Large), said she favors holding the school elections for shorter terms this year. She questioned whether the council legally could--by delaying this year's elections--extend the terms of elected public officials who already hold office.
Council Chairman David A. Clarke, who proposed an overhaul of the elections system, including postponing all elections this year, also said he may go along with such a compromise on school board contests.
Several ANC representatives testified against postponing this fall's balloting on 367 ANC posts. The ANC members, who serve without pay, contend that their role as community advocates would be obscured and overtaken by partisan political battles if they are forced to campaign for office at the same time as candidates for council and mayor.
Several witnesses who testified during a council hearing on the elections issue criticized Mayor Marion Barry for failing to make new appointments to the three-member elections board.
The term of chairman Albert J. Beveridge III expired last December and board member Virginia Moye's term expired more than a year ago. Barry said Thursday he will announce new nominations by the end of next week.
Others criticized the mayor and the council for their handling of the city's election difficulties. "The real reason election postponement is even being considered is because of the gross mismanagement" by those officials and the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics, said William Rice of the Dupont Circle Political Action Committee.