The exercise of your franchise as a citizen is the simplest task. Show up, prove who you are (photo ID not required, most times), push buttons or circle in ovals, file your ballot, and walk out whistling a happy tune. The whole thing can be a process, I know, but today you have the benefit of voting in a special election, which means turnout across the city is going to be light, which means there will be no lines.
Don’t know where to vote? No problem.
Not sure if you’re registered? No problem. (If the answer is no, also no problem, you can vote in DC on a same-day registration. You need a District ID, a lease or utility bill with your name, or a bank statement in your name, a paycheck with your name and address, or another government document with your name and address.)
So. What are you voting for?
First up is the easy one: an amendment to the District’s Charter. This amendment, if approved, would grant the District direct control over revenue paid by District residents. Currently, all revenue for the District is subject to the interference by the Congress, where we have no representation. This amendment would allow the District Government to directly appropriate tax dollars collected by the city instead of passing them to the Federal government and requesting them back.
This one’s a no brainer.
The next one is a lot more interesting, and a lot less clear: an At-Large member of the Council of the District of Columbia. When Kwame Brown resigned, and Phil Mendelson filled his chair in the November election by popular vote, his own At-Large seat went vacant. It has been held since then by Anita Bonds, who put there by Democratic Party fiat. The election today fills that seat until the 2014 general election, the rest of Mendelson’s original term.
That’s four Democrats, one Republican and a Statehood Green. I can’t tell you who to vote for – that’s not our job – but many say that this is a three-way race between Bonds, who represents an older, more traditional DC, and Mara and Silverman, who each represent reform for the city Council. Mara is on his third run for the council, all three from the Republican side of the aisle, something the council hasn’t seen since Carol Schwartz was bounced during a primary (she lost to Mara). Silverman is on her first run for the council, and is on leave from the DC Fiscal Policy Institute, a think tank that works on DC budget issues. Before serving at DCFPI, she was a Loose Lips columnist for Washington City Paper.
Mara, Silverman and Bonds are likely going to duke it out over a very few votes, so if you want to feel like you have outsize influence in a local election, today’s your day to go out and vote. Go vote, you’ll feel better no matter what happens.