D.C. election guide

WASHINGTON — D.C. voters will choose a new mayor, at least one new at-large council member and, for the first time, an elected attorney general.

In addition to a number of other offices on the ballot, there is also a ballot question asking whether D.C. should legalize marijuana.

How to Vote

On Election Day, D.C. polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Early voting began Oct. 20 at One Judiciary Square. Nine early voting centers across the city are open from Oct. 27 through Nov. 1. Any voter is allowed to vote early in D.C.

Absentee ballots must be requested by Oct. 28, postmarked by Nov. 4 and received by Nov. 14.

D.C. residents who need to register to vote or update their information can do so at an early voting center or at the polls on Election Day.

For more voter information including sample ballots and early voting locations click here.

Contests

Mayor’s Race
Ward 4 Councilwoman Muriel Bowser ousted Mayor Vince Gray in the Democratic primary earlier this year, but unlike most previous elections in the District, that has not led to a clear path to the Wilson Building.

Bowser is squaring off with fellow Councilman David Catania and former Councilwoman Carol Schwartz. Catania and Schwartz are both former Republicans who are running as independents. Other candidates on the ballot include Libertarian Bruce Majors, Statehood Green party candidate Faith Dane and independent Nestor Djonkam.

Recent polls suggest Bowser may have a lead in the race, but not the support of the majority of District voters.

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Attorney General
For the first time, D.C. voters will choose a separately elected attorney general. Until now, the mayor appointed the attorney general.

All five of the candidates are Democrats.

There was no primary in this race because it took a lawsuit spearheaded by one of the candidates, PaulZukerberg, to force the position on the ballot.

D.C. voters had approved a referendum calling for the election, but the D.C. Council attempted to delay it.

Despite the historic nature of the election, polls have suggested voters may not know much about the race.

Karl Racine has been endorsed by the Washington Post and some others. Edward “Smitty” Smith has also picked up some key endorsements in the race.

Zukerberg has some name recognition after his campaign for council last year focused almost exclusively on legalizing marijuana.

Lateefah Williams says she is running as a community advocate focused on public service.

Lorie Masters focuses on her history of fighting for D.C. voting rights and budget autonomy, which would allow the District government to spend local tax dollars without oversight from Congress.

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Marijuana
D.C. voters have the opportunity to vote on legalizing marijuana under local law.

Initiative 71 would make it legal for anyone 21 or older to have up to 2 ounces of marijuana for personal use.

Anyone 21 or older would also be allowed to grow up to six pot plants at home, give up to 1 ounce of marijuana (for free) to another person over the age of 21, and own or sell drug paraphernalia used to smoke or grow marijuana.

A “For” vote means a voter supports legalizing marijuana under D.C. law.

Even if the initiative were to be approved, marijuana would remain illegal under federal law, and it is not clear when the measure would take effect.

D.C. Council has already decriminalized the possession of individual amounts of marijuana. Instead of facing criminal possession charges, those caught with the drug now must pay a $25 civil fine.

Even if voters approve Initiative 71, Congress could block the measure. Congress reviews all news laws in the District and such oversight already has threatened the District’s decriminalization law.

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At-Large Council
Voters across the District will select two at-large council members.

Democrat Anita Bonds is running for re-election and is almost certain to return to the council.

The other seat is vacant because the incumbent David Catania is running for mayor. This second seat is is reserved for non-Democrats.

The field for the two seats features 15 candidates.

In the order they are listed on the ballot, they are:

  • Independent Michael D. Brown – This is not the former D.C. council member who is currently serving time for a corruption conviction.
  • Libertarian Frederick Steiner
  • Independent Eric Jones
  • Independent Kishan Putta
  • Independent Wendell Felder
  • Statehood Green Eugene Puryear
  • Independent Courtney Snowden
  • Democrat Anita Bonds
  • Independent Brian Hart
  • Independent Robert White
  • Independent Calvin Gurley
  • Independent Elissa Silverman
  • Republican Marc Morgan
  • Independent Graylan Hagler
  • Independent Khalid Pitts

D.C. voters will also choose a D.C Council chair and council members for wards 1, 3, 5 and 6.

Other Races
Democrat Eleanor Holmes Norton is running for re-election as D.C. delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives. She’s facing Statehood Green Natale Lino Stracuzzi, Republican Nelson Rimensnyder and independent Timothy Krepp.

District voters will also elect a shadow senator and representative, members of Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, and members of the State Board of Education from wards 1, 3, 5 and 6.

WTOP’s Max Smith contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter and on Facebook.

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