A top official of the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics testified yesterday that the board will not be able to hold an election of 367 Advisory Neighborhood Commission members this fall because of delays by the City Council in revising the ANC boundaries.
However, William H. Lewis, the board's acting executive director, said the city's long-troubled voter registration rolls would be in good enough shape to hold other scheduled elections, including those for the school board.
"The board can conduct scheduled elections for 1983 with the exception of ANC elections," Lewis told members of the council's Government Operations Committee, which is considering a bill to postpone ANC elections until next year. "We do not feel we can conduct the ANC elections."
With time fast running out before candidates must begin qualifying for the various races, the City Council and Mayor Marion Barry are considering whether to cancel some or most of this year's elections in order to allow time for preparing a more accurate list of registered voters and overhauling the city's election system.
City Council Chairman David A. Clarke introduced sweeping legislation that would cancel this year's elections, require a partial re-registration of voters and eliminate odd-year elections of all school board and ANC members.
But council member William R. Spaulding (D-Ward 5), chairman of the government operations committee, favors the more moderate course of postponing the ANC and statehood "senatorial" and "representative" elections this year, but holding elections for school board.
"It's important that the school board elections take place," said Spaulding, who unveiled a draft of his proposal during yesterday's committee meeting. "They are scheduled to take place and there is no valid reason to cancel it . . . But I want to handle the elimination of off-year elections separately. We can deal with consolidation of elections in a more deliberate manner."
Barry, who is having difficulty finding a replacement for Albert J. Beveridge III as chairman of the elections board, so far has stayed out of the controversy over whether to postpone balloting.
But aides to Barry say they are convinced he can influence the outcome of the controversy and have urged him to take a stand before the council acts.
"If the mayor publicly takes a position on these issues, he could maximize his influence on the council and the public at the same time as he addresses the continuing problems at the Board of Elections and Ethics," a top adviser on intergovernmental relations told Barry in a memo this week.
"Delay in establishing the executive office position allows councilmembers especially Chairman Clarke and council member Spaulding the opportunity to take the lead in resolving this highly controversial matter," the memo added.
The aide recommended that Barry support holding school board and initiative elections this year, but canceling the ANC and statehood elections. Barry was also urged to support the elimination of odd-year elections and to oppose a major re-registration of persons now on the D.C. Voter Registry.