Today the DC Council passed Councilmember Charles Allen’s Primary Date Alteration Amendment Act of 2017, which moves the date of all future DC primary elections to the third Tuesday in June, starting with next year’s elections scheduled now for June 19, 2018. As is common with legislation needing to take effect quickly, the bill was passed with identical emergency legislation, effectively moving the date immediately.
“This bill needs to move quickly to provide potential candidates with sufficient time to plan to run for public office, to allow the Board of Elections enough time to make necessary preparations for the election, and to ensure that voters are aware of the change in date and able to participate at the polls,” said Councilmember Allen, chair of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, who introduced the bill last month.
Aside from the need to move the primary date to avoid being in violation of Federal Election law, Councilmember Allen cited several benefits to moving the date in avoiding conflicts with schools that serve as polling sites and avoiding any federal holidays during the two-week early voting period to maximize voter turnout.
The 2018 primary voting date was previously scheduled for Sept. 4, 2018—the first Tuesday in September and the day after the Labor Day holiday. However, the Board of Elections indicated 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 general election. Any delay will place DC’s election in violation of federal law and invite legal action from the Department of Justice.