Voting in Georgetown: A Village Experience, Mostly

Sitting on the wide porch of Georgetown’s Colonial Revival-style public library with volunteer poll worker Alan Aronson on a warm Election Day afternoon, June 4, felt like a village experience.

Aronson was posted by the large ballot deposit box near the library entrance, greeting groups of voters, families, singles young and old, Georgetown leaders and people from throughout the District — and, in a few cases, the world.

Some held large folded and sealed envelopes with absentee ballots, which they or their small children put gingerly into the voting box slot. Others followed Aronson’s directions to proceed to the voting hall downstairs. All seemed excited and even a little proud to be there.

“It seems more meaningful to come in person to the election polling station, towards the end of the official election day, to cast a ballot,” one voter remarked to The Georgetowner, echoing the sentiment of several as they left the library.

Georgetown’s two polling places, at the Georgetown Library at 3260 R St. NW and at Hardy School at 1819 35th St. NW, were staffed with volunteers to guide voters through the registration and voting process. Voters could vote on paper ballots or digitally. Volunteers like Aronson handed out “I Voted” stickers, which most voters accepted with big smiles.

By 8 p.m., closing time, on Tuesday, the library had tabulated about 130 in-person ballots; Hardy counted about 145. “It seemed about even who took a print ballot and who a digital one,” one volunteer told The Georgetowner.

The library reported five noncitizen ballots cast and Hardy two. The new D.C. law allowing noncitizens to vote in local elections after 30 days of residency is controversial.

On June 3, the Washington Post reported: “D.C. election workers have been fielding angry calls and emails for more than a month from people who oppose allowing noncitizen residents to vote in local elections, leaving the head of the D.C. Board of Elections concerned about safety at the polls.”

“A message opposing the right of noncitizens to vote in local elections was chalked outside the voting center at the Georgetown Library that Sunday,” reported Monica Evans, executive director of the D.C. Board of Elections, on June 3. Election workers washed away the message before voters arrived.

D.C.’s noncitizen voting law appears to be unique in the country in that it allows any noncitizen — temporary, documented or neither — who has resided in the District for more than 30 days to vote in local elections. About a dozen communities in the U.S. allow noncitizens who have permanent residency status (aka Green Card holders) to vote in local elections, but no one else.

Since the June 4 election was also a primary for president and for the District’s delegate in Congress, each polling location in D.C. had to have separate Democratic, Republican and Statehood Green ballots minus the federal candidates on hand for noncitizen voters.

Voters — whether they were citizens or not — could register to vote at the polling station on Election Day. The application did not require any proof of identity, and registration workers in D.C. are not allowed to ask. “It’s an honor system,” Aronson explained.

When all was said and done, the status quo remained: all incumbents won their elections, excluding Vincent Gray, who announced his retirement and support of Wendell Felder, who won the Ward 7 seat on the District Council.



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