The District of Columbia should perform "major surgery" on its problem-plagued electoral system by scrapping all elections planned for 1983, completely rewriting its patchwork elections laws and reregistering all the city's voters, according to a new report.
The sweeping approach advocated by D.C. Director of Documents David A. Splitt -- who was hastily called in to supervise the Nov. 2 election after elections director Teddy Filosofos abruptly resigned -- goes beyond earlier calls for reform.
Any less comprehensive measures, Splitt said, would be "foolish" and "doomed to failure."
Splitt's proposal would involve postponing until June 1984 balloting for six school board seats and 367 Advisory Neighborhood Commission posts now set for November. It was the first specific suggestion to put off next year's school board election -- an action that would need City Council approval.
City Council chairman-elect David A. Clarke indicated he might be willing to support Splitt's idea of postponing the 1983 school board elections. A spokeswoman for Mayor Marion Barry said he had not had time to study the report and would not comment.
"It might be fair to describe these elections reforms as starting over," said Splitt, who added that trying to understand the city's elections process is "like trying to decipher the dismembered stone text of a lost civilization."
Splitt's report also says the city, which has held 16 elections in the past seven years, should:
* Consolidate all regular elections into even-numbered years. Currently, the mayor's office and seats on the 13-member council are filled in even-numbered years while seats on the 11-member school board are filled in odd-numbered years.
* Eliminate write-ins for primary elections and omit listing single-candidate primary races to simplify the ballots.
* Eliminate voter registration by mail, except for handicapped and shut-in persons and qualified absentee residents.
* Increase the number of precincts from the present 137 and reduce the number of advisory neighborhood commissioners -- giving the precincts and commission districts the same borders to eliminate confusion.
Splitt said the current D.C. elections statutes are "poorly written, disorganized and confusing," and that any attempt to amend them would probably result in writing laws that "will be contrary to language buried deep in some other section." He suggested starting from scratch on a new code.
Splitt was indirectly critical of Mayor Barry for failing to appoint two new members to seats on the three-member Board of Elections and Ethics. The term of one of the seats expired last December, and the other expires this month.
Noting that the board needs to replace Filosofos, who quit in October following harsh criticism of the way the Sept. 14 primary election was run, Splitt wrote, "No director worth having (i.e., one with any intelligence) would accept an appointment from a 'lame duck' board."
Splitt's 21-page, single-spaced report also suggested complete reorganization of the "burned out" staff of the elections board, more training, more space outside of its cramped District Building offices and more sophisticated computers.
Currently, the city has a list of more than 370,000 registered voters, but many of the names are thought to be duplications or the names of voters who have died or moved. In the September primary, election officials required more than 20,000 voters to cast special ballots, only to learn later that most were properly registered.
Clarke said yesterday that many of Splitt's suggestions probably would be incorporated into a proposal which he is now drafting. He said he may support postponing the school board elections if necessary, but that his proposal will recommend that council members and school board members from the same ward not be elected the same year.
School board president David H. Eaton said he had not seen the report and declined comment.
Elections board chairman Albert J. Beveridge III, who last month suggested postponing only the ANC balloting, also declined comment. Beveridge previously has urged reregistration.