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DC primaries: Long lines and 2 new council members

Election officials wear masks and sit behind plastic barriers as they check in voters at McKinley Technology High School on primary election day on June 2, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Two longtime members of the D.C. Council will not be taking seats next year after apparently losing in Democratic primary elections on Tuesday.

Jack Evans was skunked in an attempt to regain the Ward 2 seat he held for 28 years before resigning in the middle of the expulsion process late last year after numerous ethics violations. He garnered 293 votes on Tuesday, good for 3.78% and seventh place in an eight-candidate race.

Brooke Pinto leads as of Wednesday with 2,150 votes, or 27.71%, while Patrick Kennedy has 2,048 votes, or 26.39%, and Jordan Grossman has 1,562 votes, good for 20.13%.

The winner will face Republican Katherine Venice in November.

The D.C. Board of Elections made mail-in voting a point of emphasis this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s not known how many mail-in ballots remain to be counted.

Brandon Todd, of Ward 4, appears to have lost his primary to Janeese Lewis George, although it’s as of Wednesday. George has 7,926 votes, good for 54.14%, while Todd has 6,386 votes, or 43.62%.

The winner will take on the Statehood Green Party’s Perry Redd in November.

2020 primary results

Todd has been seen as an ally of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, and while he hasn’t conceded the race, Bowser said at a briefing Wednesday that “It looks like we have a new Democratic nominee in Ward 4.”

“I know Brandon Todd very well; I know the great work that he’s done in Ward 4, and he should be very proud of his service, and I know he will be able to hand off his progress he’s led to the next council member,” she said.

The Board of Elections said that about 90,000 mail-in ballots had been requested, and 50,000 had been counted by the end of the night Tuesday. They needed to be postmarked by Tuesday, so many ballots likely haven’t even been received yet.

Delays

Responding to reports of long waits at the 20 in-person voting centers across the District on Tuesday, Bowser said, “D.C. voters spent hours at the polls,” and called the administration of the election “nothing short of failed execution.”

The polls closed at 8 p.m.; anyone who was in line at that time would be able to vote, and voters were exempt from the 7 p.m. curfew (though some reported that the D.C. police told them otherwise). WTOP’s news partner NBC Washington reported that some voters waited until past midnight.

Board of Elections Chairman Michael Bennett reminded NBC Washington that in-person voting centers had been open since May 22, but that there was a “cultural norm to vote on Election Day.”

Many voters, however, told NBC Washington that they simply hadn’t received their mail-in ballots.

Bowser on Wednesday said that while the elections board was an independent entity not run by her administration, and it wouldn’t be appropriate to comment on the specifics of their practices, she added that her administration had offered the board various types of assistance on several occasions over the past few months.

Responding to a question, Bowser said she was “very concerned” about how well the general election in November will be run.

“The confidence of our electorate in how this independent board operates is paramount,” adding that she wants a “download” from Bennett “on what the plan is to fix it.”

Asked whether she might be asking for resignations if November’s election is a fiasco, Bowser said, “I could not tolerate continued failed leadership or execution.”

Bowser wasn’t the only D.C. leader upset with the way the primary was run.

At-large Council member Elissa Silverman said in a statement that 380 voters emailed her on Tuesday saying they hadn’t received absentee ballots and had only just learned that they could have received one by email.

Ward 6 Council Member Charles Allen said via Twitter that he would hold hearings in two weeks “to dig into failures of leadership in this election.”

WTOP’s Megan Cloherty contributed to this report.

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