FOR FAR TOO MANY years - and in a very literal sense - the one thing Washington's elections board couldn't seem to get was results. Every election day turned into a kind of electoral Hellzapoppin' that became quite unfunny as time wore on. Then, last summer, the board decided to try doing things without Norval E. Perkins, who had been its executive secretary for six terrible years. First, the board voted 2 to 0 with one abstention to fire Mr. Perkins. But three weeks later, the two board majority members settled on what they thought might be a gentler way to say goodbye to Mr. Perkins.Since the board was reorganizing anyway, Mr. Perkins' job simply disappeared in the process.
Back to Mr. Perkins in a moment. It just so happened that once he departed and Mary S. Rodgers took over as acting elections administrator and Thomas Simms as administrative officer, the board got its act together. Both the party primaries as well as the general elections went smoothly. Shari B. Kharasch, who heads the board, and member Robert Grayson McGuire were finally able to concentrate on all aspects of the duties performed by the board, which include registration, campaign finances and questions of ethics.
Now, however, Mr. Perkins is back on the doorstep. A U.S. Civil Service Commission appeals office has concluded that the board didn't do right by Mr. Perkins, that the reorganization had not really eliminated his job and that therefore the board could not get rid of Mr. Perkins in this fashion. If this ruling is not reversed on appeal, Mr. Perkins would be entitled to about $15,000 in back pay as well as the old job.
Well, there is no doubt a position somewhere that Mr. Perkins could fill usefully, but surely it's not that of presiding over the city's election process. Whatever his rights and talents, Mr. Perkins and the job he held didn't work together. It's little wonder that the elections board is appealing the Civil Service ruling. We devoutly wish for its success.