When Mayor Marion Barry nominated Virginia Moye, a retired government worker, to the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics in May 1979, Florence Tate, who was then Barry's press secretary, said the job was in no way a reward for her earlier campaign work for Barry.
"Marion had to arm-twist to get her to take it," Tate said. "She will tell anybody what she thinks about anything. That's why he felt safe in appointing her."
Moye's term technically expired last December, but she continues to serve at Barry's pleasure.
Moye said she took the job feeling, "There was something I could do." As her term officially came to an end, she said, "I felt that some things I had wanted to see done were not accomplished."
And after the September primary, which was marked by confusion and public criticism, Moye said, "I felt I had failed."
Moye said she feels the board still has a way to go in clearing up the problems with its voter registration rolls.
Moye said she believes the city should reregister all voters, and that people should be required to register in person instead of by mail as they may now.
One area that Moye said she has not had a chance to work on was voter education. "There is much that needs to be done to educate the general public that could help our elections run more smoothly," Moye said.
She said many District voters don't know that it is their responsibility to notify the board when they change address or party affiliation.
Moye says she "became political" in 1932 when her fifth-grade class in DuQuoin, Ill., located in southern Illinois, held a mock presidential election between Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt. "I couldn't wait until I was 21 to register to vote," she said.
Moye came to Washington in 1943 to seek a government job. She was active in civil rights causes over the years while working at a variety of administrative positions, principally as a loan specialist, with the Agency for International Development, and later with the Army.
But as soon as she retired, Moye, a slender, stylish 62, became active politically, serving as a volunteer coordinator for the Carter presidential campaign in 1976, then as office manager and bookkeeper for Barry's 1978 mayoral campaign.