A three-judge panel of the D.C. Court of Appeals reversed city election officials yesterday and ordered the names of D.C. Council candidates R. Rochelle Burns and Jim Harvey, both independents, to appear on the Nov. 6 ballot.
A spokeswoman for the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics, which struck Harvey and Burns from the ballot late last month for not having enough signatures on nominating petitions, said she was uncertain whether the board would appeal the court order.
But spokeswoman Leona Agouridis said the board will print the November election ballot this week and will include the two candidates' names on it.
Some political observers said the reinstatement of Burns and Harvey could enhance the electoral chances of Mayor Marion Barry, who left the Democratic Party this summer to make an independent bid for an at-large council seat.
With the addition of Harvey and Burns, there will be seven candidates on the ballot for two at-large council seats. The top two vote-getters win the seats. Barry, who polls show retains the support of at least 20 percent of the electorate, is widely thought to stand the best chance of winning a council seat in a crowded field of candidates.
Harvey, who mounted an energetic primary campaign, could pick up some of the support that might otherwise have gone to at-large incumbent Hilda H.M. Mason, a D.C. Statehood Party leader.
Supporters of Mason and Clarene Martin, another independent in the race, had challenged some of the voter signatures Burns and Harvey collected on nominating petitions to win places on the fall ballot. The election board upheld the challenges and invalidated enough signatures to knock the two off the ballot. Three thousand valid voter signatures were needed to earn a place on the ballot.
In a five-page order, the court panel invalidated two of the election board's regulations that set strict requirements for valid voter signatures on nominating petitions. The panel said the board regulations were more strict than city law.
One regulation, which the election board had cited in disqualifying the two, said a signature is not valid unless that person's address matched the one on file with the board.
The court said that requirement was too absolute, saying "there can be no doubt that there are registered voters whose addresses on the board's records differ from the addresses on the petitions."
Harvey said yesterday he was gratified by the ruling. Burns could not be reached for comment.
Other at-large council candidates are Democratic nominee Linda Cropp, Republican nominee W. Cardell Shelton and independent Ray Browne.