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Board of Elections Issues Petitions in Ward 6 Recall

The DC Board of Elections has issued petitions in support of the recall of Ward 6 DC Councilmember Charles Allen (D).

The decision was affirmed at the Feb. 13 meeting of the District of Columbia Board of Elections. It means that signature collectors could soon be out asking voters to sign.

The Committee to Recall Charles Allen was formed in December and is led by Hill resident Jennifer Squires with April Brown as treasurer. Axios broke news of the filing in January.

Brown appeared virtually at the meeting to affirm that the information on the petition was accurate.

Allen was re-elected to a third term Nov. 8, 2022, winning just under 94 percent of the more than 25,000 votes cast.

But DC Law allows registered voters to remove an elected official prior to the end of their term through a recall election.

The DCBOE met Feb. 13 and issued petitions in support of the recall of Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen (D). The empty seat on the far left is for Michael Gill, a DCBOE member who died after he was shot during a string of carjackings Jan. 29. Screenshot: Zoom, Feb. 13.

What Happens Next?

In the case of a ward representative, the recall vote only takes place if a petition for the recall is signed by ten percent of the registered voters in Ward 6 within 180 days. So, residents in the area can expect to see people out trying to collect signatures shortly.

Only registered voters who are residents of Ward 6 can sign. Signing the petition would mean support for a recall election.

According DCBOE, as of Dec. 31, 2023, there are 61,439 registered voters in Ward 6. The recall committee therefore has until Aug. 12 to collect about 6,144 signatures for the board to get the recall on the ballot.

In this case, as a General Election is scheduled for Nov. 5, 84 days after the petition deadline, the recall would be held as part of the general election.

Public Safety at the Center

The petitioners say that the recall is premised on public safety. “On this score, Charles Allen has failed miserably and should be recalled,” they write at the top of the petition. The peitioners point to legislation they say freed violent offenders from jail before their sentences were up, citing the 2023 rewrite of the DC Criminal Code, which expanded the Youth Rehabilitation Act, as well as police budget cuts and police reform in 2020.

“Charles Allen’s legacy is more criminals on the street and fewer police officers on the beat,” the petition adds, arguing that DC “ended 2023 as one of the most violent cities in the US.”

In the response, also included at the top of the peition, the Councilmember’s office say that “public safety is his top priority,” arguing that “petition organizers aim to mislead you about Charles Allen’s record.” Allen’s office points to measures pushed by Allen to incentivize the hiring of new Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officers and to retain current personnel, his vote to approve MPD budgets worth over $500 million per year, and bills to ban ghost guns and to establish the first Office of Gun Violence Prevention.

In an interview, Allen said that public safety is a real concern and that everyone should expect more out of the city — from council to the Mayor to the courts. “But there are other people twisting those real and legitimate concerns into misinformation,” Allen said.

“Rather than trying to overturn an election, if you want the job you should put your name on the ballot,” Allen said, pointing out that another election would cost taxpayers millions.

Neither Squires nor Brown from the Committee to Recall Charles Allen responded to requests for comment in time for publication.

Petition (Zoom: screenshot), DC Board of Elections meeting Feb. 13

6,114 Signatures

There has never been a successful recall election for a DC Councilmember. In 2022, a vote to recall Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner (ANC) Amber Gove (6A04) failed, with more than 75 percent of votes cast against the recall.

The recall seems like an uphill battle. But Allen has become a scapegoat for DC’s current public safety situation, particularly on social media, where many associate him with a rise in crime and a decline in the number of MPD officers.

DC law does not bar campaigns from hiring signature gatherers, or petition circulators. “The opponents have already said that they’re going to be hiring paid outside companies to collect signatures,” Allen said. “So, they’re paying for signatures.”

As of their filing at the end of January, the committee had raised more than $56,000, meaning they have sufficient funds to hire paid signature gatherers.  A Washington City Paper investigation by Alex Koma found links between those donors and the Republican Party, tying them to just over 43 percent of donations; just over half of the donors live in Ward 6, Koma found.

On Feb. 12, the campaign announced via Twitter that fundraising had reached $80,000.

A “No Recall in WARD 6” committee Chaired by Rosina Memolo with Marcella Hilt as treasurer registered with DCBOE Feb. 6, but has so far not reported any funds raised.

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