What a date on which to end our primary campaign season – April Fools Day. I could go off on that but I will restrain myself. If you haven’t done early voting, like me (I wait and vote on the official election day), you have until 8 p.m. to head to your designated precinct location.
If you care about our schools, revitalization of our city, the safety of crossing our streets and walking on sidewalks, and affordable housing, learn about the candidates and vote in local elections.
I am very conscientious about doing my homework for elections. And around two weeks ago, I thought I was all done researching and deciding who I would vote for in the Democratic primary. But then a neighbor came up to me while I was grocery shopping and asked about the election. I went into my spiel about why I was voting and for whom. And I was ready to continue shopping when she asked me, “What do the various ‘slates’ mean for the election of Democratic Committee members?”
I had not a clue. And I was jarred by the realization that I also did not understand what the DC Democratic State Committee does.
Those of you who know me well know it is hard for me to ignore a question I should know something about. So off to the Internet I went. I quickly was immersed in a side trip – finding out about our political parties. Did you know we have four parties in DC? Beyond the Democrats and Republicans, we have the DC Statehood Green party and for the first time, the Libertarian party will have a primary ballot. The Libertarian party is fielding six candidates, the Statehood Green Party has five candidates, and the Republicans, two candidates.
Each party has its own ballot. For more information about these candidates go to your handy DC Voter Guide, published by the Board of Elections and mailed to every household.
In the Democratic ballot section, beyond candidates for delegate for the House, mayor, chair of the DC Council, and the Ward 3 and at-large Council seats, one can easily be overwhelmed by all the names you don’t recognize, for offices you don’t know anything about, such as shadow representative and shadow senator. Both offices’ primary function is to work on getting DC residents full voting rights. Shadow Senator Paul Strauss has held this office since 1997, and running against him is Pete Ross. WAMU’s online voter guide gives a good description of these two candidates that goes beyond the mud-slinging you’ll find in their campaign literature.
After that side trip, I got back into researching the Democratic State Committee, otherwise known as the DC Democratic Party, and the positions on the primary ballot. This is where you get into the slates, which are groupings of candidates running under common goals. One is the Rent Is Too Darn High slate. DC Ready for Hillary and Democrats Moving Forward are the other Democratic slates. And for these these positions you get to choose up to six candidates – by gender.
By the way, men come first on the ballot.
First up are choices for two Democratic National Committee members and two alternates. Again, you vote separately for a man and a woman. You get one vote for each.
For local at-large positions, you get up to six votes for each gender. And voters in each ward also choose the ward’s male and female reps on the committee. Whew!
When I vote for DC representatives on the Democratic National Committee, I am voting for a super delegate at the Democratic National Convention. Super delegates are those delegates not bound by the popular vote. All of our elected officials, who are currently Democrats, are also super delegates to the DNC. Now how these local committee members are involved in the other major role for the DNC, providing support for Democrats running for office by raising money, or providing technical assistance is not clear. The party is also big in promoting voting rights, and there is a new Voter Expansion Project. Again, involvement of local members is not clear.
When we vote for local members to the DC Democratic Party, we are voting for members who are actively engaged in voter registration and education and assisting both national and local candidates in elections on the local level. They can fill vacant at-large Council seats. Another function is determining eligibility of Democratic candidates, and endorsing candidates. Last but not least, our local Democratic Party holds an election in the year of the national convention for delegates to the Democratic National Convention. I have been involved in that, but that is for another article.
Now, go vote – if you haven’t already.