Ben Jealous’ Surprising Voter History

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE (4/26): Ben Jealous blasted me in a blog post today. Some are for the mistakes outlined below that I apologized for and corrected two days ago. Jealous now also explains that he lived in California when he wasn’t voting (but apparently wasn’t purged) in D.C. in 2006 and 2008. You can read my response here. I’ve left this post unchanged at this point so that you can better assess his claims and mine.

UPDATE (4/24): Some of the information in the original version of this post wasn’t right. I’ve corrected the table above as well as the text below, so you can see the difference. (The source of the error is that I counted the elections before he was purged in DC as having been missed, when Jealous had registered in Maryland.) My apologies not just to Ben Jealous but to readers for the errors.

Yesterday, I looked at the voting records of all Democratic gubernatorial candidates. Ben Jealous has been registered to vote in Maryland only since 2012 and I speculated that either he had been voting elsewhere or not at all.

Turns out that Jealous was registered in DC from 2000 through 2010 (he wasn’t purged from the DC rolls until after the 2014 elections) – far longer than he has been registered in Maryland.

Recent Democrat

Jealous became a Democrat only recently. He was registered in DC as an unaffiliated voter:

This choice stands out because, as in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties, the closed Democratic primary is the key election in most cases. His decision to register as an independent means that, for example, he could not vote in the 2008 presidential primary between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Jealous also did not have the opportunity to weigh in on heated contests for mayor and other local offices.

Lackadaisical Voter

For someone who is asking people to vote for him, Jealous missed a lot of elections. When he was registered in DC, Jealous skipped 6 of 14 elections in which he was eligible to vote. (Primaries in which the DC Board of Elections and Ethics says he was ineligible are excluded. There must have been nonpartisan offices or questions on the primary elections listed here.)

As reported yesterday, he also missed two of the six elections while registered in Maryland, so he has voted in 12 of 20 elections since 2000.

Missed Historic Votes

Among the 43% 56% of DC elections that Jealous skipped were some important contests. He didn’t vote in the historic election of Barack Obama as our first African-American president, probably unusual in a former NAACP President! He also did not vote in 2012, when he was reelected even more handily. (Folks, this is incorrect, he voted in that election in Maryland).

Jealous also missed out on the vote on to legalize marijuana in 2014.

At the local level, the 2013 special election to fill a Council vacancy, the DC equivalent of our state legislature, was an exciting contest and far from a foregone conclusion. (Also wrong, he voted in Maryland that year, as my chart from yesterday shows.)

Finally, as mentioned yesterday, he has never voted in a Maryland gubernatorial primary. The first Democratic primary vote he casts for governor will be for himself.