WASHINGTON — There’s a push to move the 2018 D.C. primary from September to June. It may not feel like the right temperature for voting, but one council member says it’s a necessary change.
“I can’t do anything that’s going to put us at risk of a federal intervention or legal action from the Department of Justice,” said Council member Charles Allen, D-Ward 6.
Allen chairs the committee that oversees the Board of Elections and has proposed legislation entitled the Primary Date Alteration Amendment Act, which would in effect move the date of the 2018 primary election.
“So there’s a federal election law that requires overseas ballots, which are largely to our members of the military, that they have to go out 45 days before the general election,” Allen said.
Coupled with windows of time required by law for judicial challenge, to request a recount and to certify the election, Allen fears the existing Sept. 4 primary date is cutting things dangerously close.
“We cannot get all the things done in time to meet that requirement and we absolutely don’t want to be out of compliance with the federal law,” he said.
This could be the third change to the District’s primary date in the last three election cycles — a fact Allen acknowledged is confusing for voters.
“I think we need to give voters some predictability. They need to know when elections are. So my recommendation would be to make this permanent, so we don’t just keep going at this every two years,” he said.
There will soon be a hearing to the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety on his proposal to change to the second Tuesday in June. A date has not been set.