The headquarters of DC Vote have a lived-in feel, with scuffed blue carpets and hallways lined with stacks of cardboard boxes. The walls are a bricolage of candid photos from protests and posters from the group's well-known ad campaigns (I AM DC, I DEMAND THE VOTE). When I first visited last summer, a couple of rumpled dress shirts hung over the backs of chairs in the office bullpen. A staffer apologized, saying they'd been tossed there by interns who had changed into T-shirts before going out to leaflet.
The corner office of DC Vote's executive director, Ilir Zherka, was so tidy by comparison that I asked whether he'd cleaned up for my visit. There was a stand for his leadership awards, a single mounted news article, an impeccably trimmed ficus. Zherka said the slim pile of papers on his desk was a bit thicker than usual: "I don't like clutter. It prevents me from freeing up my mind to work."
A diagram tacked to the inside of his door added to the picture of Zherka as the cool t...