Norton Moves to Help Avoid Voting Problems in DC Emerging in Other States
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October 22, 2004
Washington, DC - Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) spoke with D.C. Postmaster Delores Killette and D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics (BOEE) Executive Director Alice Miller last evening concerning calls from residents to Norton's office regarding the difficulty in getting responses to questions about absentee ballots and other matters concerning the upcoming elections because of backlogged phone calls. Norton was concerned that D.C. elections be free of the problems that plagued Florida in 2000 and already are being reported in other jurisdictions. The Congresswoman, a cosponsor of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), has been deeply involved in getting funds from HAVA to assure well-run elections, and D.C. has received a total of $16.6 million in HAVA funds.
Norton suggested that to better handle the calls for information, BOEE put questions and answers on its website and try taking callers' names and telephone numbers and returning calls in the evening rather than providing all the desired information by phone during periods of high call volume, holding up other callers seeking information. Most callers want to know if they are registered and where their polling places are, according to BOEE, and this information is already on line.
Congresswoman Norton also learned that some absentee ballots were being mailed by residents without the required 60¢ postage, although some of these were delivered back to the Board of Elections. The Congresswoman asked Postmaster Killette to send out a formal notice from her office that all such ballots are to be delivered to the BOEE, and she has agreed. Norton cautions, however, that residents should provide their own postage. Absentee ballots must have a postmark no later than November 2, election day.
The Congresswoman said, "I am very pleased that citizens here are responding with such enthusiastic interest in voting, as they have throughout the country. I appreciate the hard work of the Board of Elections in trying to meet this new and escalated demand. Considering how we always encourage people to register and vote, the surge of new interest is a challenge we must meet. 'Watch what you wish for.' It looks as if we've got it." The Congresswoman, who recently visited Florida, said that she will use this year's experience to help decide what voting amendments to offer in the next Congress.
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