[Image courtesy of pjmedia]

A group of Washington, DC voters seeking to ban corporate political contributions in City elections has filed suit against the Board of Elections after their petition was denied for insufficient signatures.

Normally, this isn’t the kind of thing to which I pay attention, but the allegations in the complaint – essentially, that the DCBOE doesn’t know the law and can’t do basic math – makes it noteworthy.

According to the Washington Post:

Under city election law, residents can petition an initiative onto the ballot by collecting signatures from 5 percent of registered voters, which currently equals 23,298 residents. Working under the name D.C. Public Trust, dozens of volunteers spent months gathering signatures in front of grocery stores, at festivals and at polling places on primary day.

Last month, they turned in about 30,000 signatures.

When the elections board conducted its review, it invalidated about 9,000 of those signatures because they allegedly belonged to unregistered voters, duplicated other valid signatures or contained missing addresses or addresses that didn’t match voter records.

But Bryan Weaver, a former council candidate who helped head up the petition effort, said that D.C. Public Trust volunteers have since recounted their submissions twice. The recount, the suit alleges, revealed at least 24,645 signatures from valid registered voters.

According to the complaint, notations on the petitions (most notably checkmarks, which indicate a valid signature) yield the 24,645 figure. Moreover, the complaint alleges that DCBOE failed to identify valid voters whose addresses had been updated under the law. DC Public Trust also claims DCBOE rejected signatures from voters as they left polling places during the April presidential primary and a May special election – meaning either that they were mistakenly identified as unregistered or were allowed to cast ballots as ineligible voters. Finally, there are questions about whether and how duplicate signatures were rejected as well as a small group of signatures that were rejected for no stated reason.

An emergency hearing will be necessary to get the petition on this November’s ballot. Here’s hoping that the court can help DCBOE figure out what’s going on and give DC voters confidence in the City’s election administration – not to mention its math skills.