The day of the election, alarming accusations surfaced at precinct 79 (Brown Junior High School) in Ward 5- illegal electioneering, voter intimidation, and reports that ANC candidate Kathy Henderson actually entered the polling place to coerce voters while they were in the process of voting. With local ANC elections many times hinging on a relatively small number of votes, it’s imperative that authorities take seriously allegations of electioneering inside a polling place and voter intimidation.
The first signs of trouble were on Twitter. As events unfolded, several witnesses reported Henderson’s antics, and several persons- including poll workers and voters- say they called police to intervene. That evening, I spoke with ANC 5D05 candidate (and Henderson’s opponent) Darlene Glymph as wells as other witnesses, who all had pretty much the same version of events: Henderson went inside the polling place and campaigned there (one said Henderson helped people vote), and intimidated voters most of the day outside.
One witness, a poll worker named “Peaches”, says she saw Henderson inside the polling place harassing voters while they were voting and called 911 because Henderson wouldn’t leave. According to her, Henderson tricked front-line poll workers into letting her in by saying she was going inside to get a count of voters from officials (something I’m told candidates cannot do themselves). When MPD responded to the 911 call, Kathy went outside and denied ever being inside. Here’s a video (edited for brevity) of that:
In addition to allegations that Henderson interrupted voters inside the polling place, other allegations include Henderson violating laws regarding electioneering. Video obtained appears to show Henderson well inside the 50-foot “bubble” that is supposed to be free of electioneering to protect the integrity of the voting process. Here’s a screenshot of a video frame showing the well-posted signs and Henderson well beyond them:
And here’s the raw video:
In addition to video provided to ToTville, several precinct 79 voters expressed their frustration online with Henderson’s antics that continued unfettered throughout the day: from voter intimidation to displaying campaign materials inside the polling place:
— Liz King (@meking251) November 6, 2012
@totville yep she was out there around 930 am doing it.
— Carlton Purvis (@CarltonPurvis) November 6, 2012
How many times will MPD have to go top #79 to deal with Kathy Henderson today? Voters calling cops on her.Bad campaigning
— Tim Day (@Tim_Day_DC) November 6, 2012
— Liz King (@meking251) November 6, 2012
Other videos taken that day also show Henderson harassing would-be voters, who clearly express frustration. With Henderson blocking the sidewalk in the electioneering-free bubble, some voters have to walk around in the grassy area of the school’s yard, and Kathy is seen yelling at them. When would-be voters ask a police officer to help, he says that he has to wait until a supervisor arrives to deal with Henderson:
A police source at the Fifth District related to ToTville on election night: “Their hands were tied. They (MPD officials) have given her too much power.”
When the supervisor arrives, he does talk with Henderson, who denies any wrongdoing, despite reports to the contrary and a 911 call from at least one poll worker. He doesn’t appear to interview the poll worker who called 911, however. In addition, Henderson can be heard in video saying “You’re a democrat, you know what time it is” and “intelligent African-Americans don’t vote republican” to the officer, in an apparent attempt to influence him:
The sergeant in the above video handled Henderson’s berating very calmly and professionally, and reportedly left the scene without action after calming the situation down.
We attempted to look into allegations that Henderson called police higher-ups to counter the precinct worker’s 911 calls, and attempted to get more insight into whether MPD took any enforcement action against Henderson. We provided the following questions to MPD:
-Was MPD called to the precinct 79 on Election Day? If so, by whom and why?
-If MPD responded, was a report made? If so, for what? Can you provide a copy of the report?
-Were any arrests made? Why/why not and for what offense(s)?
-Was the voting process or integrity disturbed?
-If MPD responded, how many officers? Did any supervisors respond?
-Did any ANC candidates or poll workers or voters contact MPD officers or officials outside of a call to 911?
In response to the above questions, Gwendolyn Crump, MPD’s public information officer, provided this statement:
MPD responded and interviewed two individuals. A member of the Board of Elections addressed the matter. No further intervention was needed by MPD. Please direct your inquiry to the Board of Elections. The report number is 12156458.
A copy of the report was not provided.
We know that MPD spoke with Henderson and her opponent, Darlene Glymph. Since MPD only interviewed two persons, it would appear that they didn’t interview the poll workers who called 911 or any of the voters who witnessed Henderson unlawfully entering the polling place.
As of this writing, the DC Board of Elections has not replied to a request for comment sent in the afternoon of November 7. In addition, the campaign for Darlene Glymph noted that it will speak to federal officials regarding the city’s lack of enforcement, and hopes that the DC Board of Elections will persue an investigation.
To request that DC government investigate this: contact Councilwoman Muriel Bowser at email@example.com, Councilman Kenyan McDuffie at firstname.lastname@example.org, and the DC Board of Elections at: email@example.com AND firstname.lastname@example.org.
This was, quite possibly, a quinessential “Kathy Henderson kind of day.” More on this as it develops. In the meantime, what do you think? Pick up to 4 options: