Attorney: Plans to seek injunction in D.C. election case stalled

Adrian Fenty's chances of including independent voters in the Democratic primary might be growing a bit dimmer.

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Fenty camp's chances of including indie voters might be taking another hit

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Brian Castro — an attorney who had planned to seek an injunction against a D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics decision that blocked non-partisan voters in the Democratic primary — now says his efforts are in a holding pattern.

"I am disappointed, but that is the reality of it," Castro said Thursday.

Castro said that the "politics of the present situation," had affected his ability to progress as he had hoped, and said it had been difficult for him to find independent voters who would be willing to name themselves on a request for an injunction.

Last week, the board rejected the arguments of Mayor Adrian Fenty's campaign, which had petitioned to allow residents who weren't registered with a party to vote in the Sept. 14 Democratic primary. Castro told reporters at the time that he planned to file the injunction, saying that the board's decision would disenfranchise unaffiliated voters.

For the injunction to move forward, Castro said, plaintiffs would have to "out" themselves as independent voters. Voters generally have reasons for not attaching themselves to parties, such as working in a profession that would discourage them from taking a political stance.

"Being the poster child for a case of this nature is conflictual for many of those people," Castro said.

The board had ruled that the District didn’t have a tradition of allowing independent voters to cast ballots in party primaries, and cited the D.C. Council’s previous decision to reject the idea when it passed changes to the District’s election laws.

“This order focuses largely on the actions, or in this case, the inactions, of the council," Board Chairman Togo West said at the time.

Castro stopped short of saying that the effort was stalled or completely dead, but did note that it was "unlikely that we would go forward."

About 72,000 registered independent voters live in D.C. Early voting in the mayoral primary started Monday.

A telephone message left with Fenty campaign spokesman was not immediately returned.

“We’re pretty confident that we were standing on firm legal ground on our position that be board should not allow the inclusion of unaffiliated voters," said Traci Hughes, spokeswoman for Vince Gray's campaign. "As far as we’re concerned, the board of elections made the right decision.”

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