- August 7 - The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) is considering its legal options
after the Washington, D.C., Board of Elections and Ethics (BOEE) refused to correct
its erroneous omission of thousands of valid signatures for Initiative 63, the
Medical Marijuana Initiative of 2002.
"The Board has acted capriciously and unfairly," said MPP Executive
Director Robert Kampia. "We presented clear evidence of massive errors by
the Board's staff, but the Board refused to use its discretion to uphold the will
of D.C. voters."
Initiative petitions must contain valid signatures from five percent of the
District's registered voters, and that total must include five percent of voters
from at least five of the city's eight wards. There is no dispute that the more
than 18,000 signatures accepted by the Board met the citywide requirement, but
the BOEE claimed that MPP had presented enough valid signatures from only four
of eight wards. In Ward 4, the board claimed MPP fell approximately 100 signatures
But MPP's review of the Board's work found that massive numbers of valid signatures
had been falsely ruled invalid. An analysis of nearly 4,000 allegedly bad signatures
found that at least 15 percent were clearly valid.
Kampia and MPP Director of Government Relations Steve Fox met with Registrar
Kathy Fairley prior to the Board's deliberations and presented her with the results
of the MPP's analysis. After reviewing a sample of petitions, Fairley agreed that
a large number of perfectly good signatures had been erroneously disallowed --
and reported that finding to the board.
But rather than owning up to the massive errors and extrapolating the results
of MPP's analysis, BOEE Chairman Benjamin F. Wilson insisted that MPP must either
verify each and every falsely invalidated signature -- a project that would cost
the nonprofit group approximately 400 person-hours of staff time, on top of the
100 hours already spent identifying and correcting the Board's mistakes -- or
trust the same staff that made the errors in the first place to re- check their
"This is outrageous," Kampia said. "Whether out of malice or
simple incompetence, the Board screwed up, and now they insist that our staff
and members must shoulder the burden of fixing their mistakes. That's not acceptable.
The Board of Elections and Ethics has fraudulently disenfranchised thousands of
District voters and then refused to take responsibility for its actions. We didn't
pick this fight, but we will win it."
The Marijuana Policy Project works to minimize the harm associated with
marijuana -- both the consumption of marijuana and the laws that are intended
to prohibit such use. In association with Students for Sensible Drug Policy, MPP
will hold its first national conference -- featuring a special appearance by comedian
Bill Maher -- on Nov. 8-10 in Anaheim, California. For more information, please
visit http://www.mpp.org .