Voters in the District ran into election-day snafus yesterday as many found their names bumped from newly computerized registration lists, others were improperly turned away and still others faced long delays while harried registrars tried to sort out the mess.
"It's the damndest thing I ever heard of; people have become non-persons and I don't know why you become a non-person," said Albert J. Beveridge, chairman of the city's Board of Elections and Ethics.
Beveridge and voting administrator Lillie F. Fitzgerald blamed the problems on inaccurate computer lists of voters supplied by the city's central computer system. They said the printout registrar lists had error rates as high as 40 percent in some cases.
However, Mayor Marion Barry, who sent a letter to Beveridge yesterday complaining about the dropped names and other delays, said computer officials told him the elections board had given them inaccurate information.
And Fitzgerald, who said she could not estimate how widespread the voting problems were, asserted she had even more problems with balloting for the city's numerous Advisory Neighborhood Commissions.
She said her office learned that many voters had been assigned to the wrong ANC district, causing many of them to end up voting for candidates who don't live in their areas. There were several reports that supplies of ANC ballots ran out in some areas and that some ANC candidates were given the wrong ballots and couldn't even vote for themselves.
Lorraine Johnson, an incumbent Ward 2 ANC commissioner, said she intended to vote for herself at the Metropolitan Baptist Church, then discovered that poll workers were handing out the wrong ANC ballot. After she asked for resolution of the problem, a supply of the correct ballots was found in a cardboard box in a back room.
"They may have to hold the election over," Johnson said.
Another Ward 2 ANC commissioner, Elmer Brooks, said he sent a letter to Barry and the elections board, formally asking that the ANC election in Ward 2 be invalidated.
"There was a great deal of confusion," he said. "It's not trivial."
Fitzgerald said she warned the board of elections about the ANC problem last week, but the board decided to go ahead with the election. Asked about straightening out yesterday's ANC voting, she said, "That will be something the board will have to determine."
Late yesterday, the board was forced to issue an appeal to city voters to return to the polls if they had been turned away. Apparently, some precinct supervisors blocked many persons from voting if they did not have any identification which showed their name and current address. This requirement of presenting a specific identification was invoked for the first time here yesterday.
Those voters were supposed to be allowed to cast "special" or challenge ballots which were to be counted later after the voters' identities had been verified.
"The people who followed the instructions had no problems," Fitzgerald said.
In addition to the flawed registration lists, several persons reported that precincts ran out of ballots, some more than once.
Veteran Ward 8 poll worker Thelma Scott said there was "massive confusion" at the Southeast school where she was assigned, stemming from inaccurate voter lists, too much paper work to record who voted and long delays in reaching the registrar's office to confirm registration of voters bumped from the rolls.
"The computer threw out so many names it isn't funny," said an angry Kathy Scipio, Precinct 25 captain at Goodwill Baptist Church at Kalorama and Columbia Roads NW. "There were senior citizens in here who have voted for years and their names were not on the lists."