The District is slated to begin same-day voter registration this year, but a city councilwoman is worried that the new process could lead to vote-buying and fraud.
Starting with the Sept. 14 primary, people can register to vote at the polls on election day, which has spurred questions about the potential for bought or fraudulent votes.
Votes from same-day registrants will be cast as provisional ballots and subject to review, said Board of Elections and Ethics chief Rokey Suleman. He was among a group of officials from the agency speaking Thursday at a D.C. Council Government Operations and the Environment Committee public roundtable.
Suleman said people must vote in the precinct in which they live, so poll workers should recognize voters who try to register outside their precinct.
The BOEE plans to have five lawyers staffing a hot line to respond to fraud allegations. But that might not be enough, said Ward 3 Councilwoman Mary Cheh, who urged the BOEE officials to increase that number.
"Five seems a little thin to me," Cheh said.
Same-day registration is expected to cause some "administrative difficulties" on election day, Suleman acknowledged.
He said some ballot clerks will be trained specifically in processing same-day registrants, but voters should expect long lines if they wait until election day to register.
The board will conduct a mock election on July 26 and 27. The dry run will test early-voting procedures, same-day registration and polling place workflows.
Changes to absentee ballots will help ensure that voters get the right ballots, Suleman said. In 2008, some absentee voters received incorrect ballots.
Absentee ballots now have bar codes, which a machine will use to determine which ballot a voter should receive.
Absentee voters will also be able to track their ballots through the BOEE Web site. Voters will be able to check whether their absentee application has been processed, their ballot mailed and the ballot's status in the mail until it is delivered.
Voters will also be able to confirm online that the BOEE received and processed their returned absentee ballots.