Councilmember Charles Allen, Chair of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety – which includes oversight of the Board of Elections – introduced the Primary Date Alteration Amendment Act of 2017. In response to a determination that the current September 2018 primary election date would put the District out of compliance with federal election law related to mailing overseas ballots, the legislation proposes to move the date of the District’s primary election to the third Tuesday in June, starting with the 2018 election.
The 2018 primary election date is currently scheduled for September 4, 2018 – the first Tuesday in September and the day after the Labor Day holiday. However, the Board of Elections has advised that under current law, it will not be able to meet federal law requiring overseas ballots for the general election be mailed no less than 45 days before the November 2018 general election. Any delay would place the District’s general election in violation of federal law and invite legal action from the Department of Justice.
“As the chair of the committee with oversight, I take the risk of violating federal election law very seriously. Moving the primary date to June gives the Board of Elections the time it needs to certify results and allows for due process for any challenges before the necessary preparations for the general election need to begin,” said Councilmember Allen.
Allen added, “In addition, a June 19 primary will ensure that Election Day – with the majority of our polling sites located in school buildings – will occur shortly after the school year has ended in order to avoid conflicts with student schedules and end-of-year activities. It also guarantees that the two-week early voting period isn’t interrupted by the Memorial Day holiday weekend.”
Allen said, “I intend to move this legislation quickly at the Council so that we can provide all potential candidates with sufficient time to plan and prepare to run for public office. The change will also ensure that all voters are able to fully participate and exercise their rights at the polls.”