Tuesday, January 8, 2008

DC Voting Deadlines, Primaries Loom


If you are a registered voter in the District of Columbia, get ready. Key dates are approaching regarding the Race to Live in Relative Comfort For at Least Four Years, Maybe Eight, at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW. Or, in the parlance of our times, the Race for the White House '08. The DC primaries are only weeks away, Tuesday February 12, 2008. If you'd like to vote in the primaries, you must be a registered voter by January 14th, 2008. That's next week! Remember, we have closed primaries in DC. That means you must register under a particular party to take part. Those registered as independents are not allowed to vote in DC's primaries. However, independents are allowed to vote in the general election. For the 2008 presidential primary elections, three parties are on the ballot, Democrat, Republican and Statehood Green.

The polling locations for the primary elections mirror those for the general election. There are 142 all over the city. Check you voter registration card, or use this web link to determine to which polling place you are assigned. There are a couple in Mt Pleasant alone including Bancroft School and the Mt Pleasant Branch Library.

If you are just turning 18 soon, or just haven't registered, you still have time to before the general elections in November. The deadline to register in DC for the general (including presidential) elections is October 6. The election will then be held a month later on November 4, 2008.

There are 7 Democrat, 6 Statehood Green and 5 Republican candidates vying for their own party's presidential nomination. Interesting notes: Two candidates have already dropped out of the presidential race although their names will still appear on the DC ballot (Joseph Biden and Christopher Dodd, both Democrats), one candidate is a DC resident (Jared Ball of the Green Party), and one candidate was a star of sorts in an opposing party (Cynthia McKinney, formerly of Democratic Party fame, now a Green Party candidate). A couple of years ago, DC officials tried to jump the primary nomination gun and schedule an primary in January. The purposes were to make a splash nationally by being the first in the nation primary and to focus attention on our lack of full representation in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. The primaries were held early, but the plan backfired when national Democratic Party leaders stripped the elections of any cache' by declaring them non-binding, essentially making the exercise a meaningless exhibition. Not so this year, as we get back in line with everyone else. The big day outside of Iowa and New Hampshire, is Super Tuesday February 5, 2008. Twenty states will hold primary elections, virtually assuring that one candidate form each of the major parties will have locked up the nomination for president by Wednesday February 6.

Where does that leave DC then, with a primary on February 12? Well, whether our primary is on January 1 or June 1, the purpose is the same. Vote to send your candidate to lead your party and run for President. If you don't have a party (or don't want one), just wait out the primaries and use that time to decide who you'll vote for in the general election. Its true, "all politics is local," and we get a chance at least once every four years to prove that statement in the national presidential primaries. Vote.