DCBOEE blocks last minute rule change

Photo courtesy of
‘Smart Women VOTE’
courtesy of ‘volcanojw’

DC’s primary situation is a bit of a precarious one. For the first time in my life, I had to register with a party in order to vote in the primary. I’m not one to embrace the national parties, as there’s no room for nuance in their platforms. But here I was, registering Democrat this spring so that I could vote in the fall primaries for Mayor. Today, the DCBOEE heard a petition by Mayor Fenty to allow for independent voters in the primaries. This wasn’t a true “opening of the primaries,” but rather an end-around in order to give Fenty access to the 73,000 party-less voters that live mostly in Wards 1 and 2 where he is strongest.

The two sitting members of the board, including recently seated chair Togo West, kept an orderly and quick hearing on the proposal, and ruled that the independents have had plenty of time to change their party registration in order to vote in the September primary, but chose not to do so, and rejected the Mayor’s petition.

The difficult matter here has to do with the fact that in order to participate in the crucial elections in the District, you have to be registered as a Democrat. I don’t share much in common with the national party (though, truthfully, more in recent years than with Republicans), but here I am having to register as one in order to take part in the city’s biggest decision. This seems to me to be an odd choice that people would have to make in order to participate in a city’s governance. Why do we pay for the city’s democratic primary when it’s really the mayoral election? What chance does a candidate from another party really have? Why aren’t we just holding the big election in November and opening it to all? These are some questions we should be thinking about before the next election.

I live and work in the District of Columbia. I write at We Love DC, a blog I helped start, I work at Technolutionary, a company I helped start, and I’m happy doing both. I enjoy watching baseball, cooking, and gardening. I grow a mean pepper, keep a clean scorebook, and wash the dishes when I’m done. Read Why I Love DC.

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4 thoughts on “DCBOEE blocks last minute rule change

  1. “What chance does a candidate from another party really have?”

    See: Carol Schwartz, 1994, 42% of the vote.

    While that was a rare event, to be sure, the problem with this action isn’t the rule change itself.

    It’s that it already came up last year before the city council, and was rejected, and it’s clearly an attempt to change the rules at the 11th hour, which was actually the very reason Fenty used for vetoing “Corrupt Election Practices Amendment Act” barely a week ago.

    There may very well be good arguments for opening the Mayoral primary in DC to non-democrats. But this is not the right time to do it, and when it WAS the right time to do it, it was rejected.

  2. Another important thing to note is that Fenty can always run as an independent if he loses in the primary. I bet he will.

    You could say this puts him at a disadvantage, but it really doesn’t. Nobody voting in the local election doesn’t know who they’re voting for, and Anthony Williams won once as a WRITE-IN candidate.

  3. How can a voter change their party before the November election?
    Even though I know that you can vote for either party, many voters who registered with me as special clerk wanted to change their party permanently. Please send me the address for making this change. Thank you. B. Berman

  4. Barbara,

    Please contact DCBOEE directly. You can alter your registration through a paper form that they can send you, or you can go down to the DCBOEE offices at Judiciary Square.