WASHINGTON (FOX 5 DC) - Election officials say there is no plan to put a super-voting center east of the Anacostia River, angering some who call the move unfair or even voter suppression.
The large venues are billed as a solution to long lines and expected high-demand on Election Day and would allow many more people to vote at once and remain socially distant.
The D.C. Board of Elections previously announced the use of Capital One Arena and Nationals Park as super-voting centers. The board explored the Entertainment and Sports Arena, home to the Washington Mystics, but says Events DC told them it was unavailable.
The Washington Post first reported that leaves Wards 7 and 8 without a large-scale voting option.
Events DC declined to say what event precluded the taxpayer-funded facility's use as a super voting center.
Election officials told the Post that it has added smaller polling locations and mail-in ballot drop boxes in Wards 7 and 8, but some see the lack of a super voting center when other parts of the city have them as unequal.
"There are systems here that are supressing the Black vote," said Mysiki Valentine, a Ward 7 resident and candidate for State Board of Education.
"Black people, brown people, the 150,000 residents of Ward 7 and 8 are going to show up and they're going to show out on Election Day and during early voting season and to me it just felt like it was counterproductive against our claims to want to energize and mobilize apathetic voters," Valentine said.
FOX 5 asked Mayor Muriel Bowser's office about the lack of a super voting center in Wards 7 and 8. A spokeswoman declined to comment on that specifically, but said Mayor Bowser supports election officials using every precinct.
On Wednesday, Greg O'Dell, president and CEO of Events DC, shared the following statement with FOX 5:
"Several months ago, we had conversations with the DC Board of Elections about utilizing the Entertainment and Sports Arena as a potential voting site. As we shared with BOE, we have been in discussions for some time about potential programming over the dates requested. However, we recognize and fully support the efforts to promote voting, particularly in our community East of the River. We have not heard from the Board of Elections in recent weeks; however, we will make sure that the dates are available for the Arena to serve as a voting center if necessary and hope to shift the potential programming to future dates."