District of Columbia voters will go to the polls Tuesday to nominate candidates for eight city offices, including mayor and city council chairman, and for the office of D.C. delegate to Congress. Voters also will cast ballots on an intiative that would require mandatory minimum sentencing for crimes of violence with firearms and certain drug trafficking offenses.

The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Any registered voter in the District will be allowed to vote on the initiative, officially called Initiative No. 9 because it is the ninth initiative to be filed in the city since home rule.

However, only voters from the Democratic, Republican and D.C. Statehood parties will be allowed to participate in the closed party primaries, in which party nominees will be selected for the general election Nov. 2.

In addition to the mayor, council chairman and delegate, nominees also will be chosen for two at-large seats on the council and council member seats from Wards 1, 3, 5 and 6.

Even though two of the four at-large seats on the council are up this year, only one nominee from each party can enter the general election to compete against certified independent candidates and those from other parties.

In the balloting Tuesday, write-in votes will be permitted for all offices. Even in those cases where only one candidate is listed, the candidate must receive a plurality of votes cast for the office in order to win. Unopposed candidates do not advance to the general election automatically.

Voting will take place at polling places in 137 precincts. Each voter should have a voter registration card to verify eligibility, but those without cards will be allowed to vote if they are registered.

The District of Columbia does not permit registration at the polling place on the date of the election. Only those persons who were properly registered to vote as of Aug. 16 will be allowed to cast ballots on Tuesday.

Redistricting required by the 1980 census caused partial boundary changes in Wards 2, 3, 5 and 6, which means that some precincts have been changed from the wards they were in last year.

Only 5 polling places have been changed since the 1981 elections, however.

This year, Ward 1 voters in precinct 13 will cast ballots at Mackin High School, 2200 California St. NW. Ward 1 voters in precinct 137 will vote at the Garrison School, 12th and S streets NW. Ward 3 voters in Precinct 27 will vote at the Eaton school, 34th and Lowell streets NW. Ward 3 voters in precinct 31 will vote at St. Columba's Episcopal Church, 4201 Albemarle St. NW. Ward 5 voters in precinct 76 will vote at Hamilton Junior High School, 6th St. and Brentwood Parkway NE.

Absentee voters can cast their ballots in two ways. Those who already have obtained absentee ballots by mail -- the deadline to do so was Aug. 30 -- must mail them in, postmarked no later than Sept. 14.

Absentee ballots also can be cast by voting in person at the Board of Elections and Ethics office in Room 7 of the District Building, 14th St. and Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., through 5 p.m., Sept. 10.

For additional information on voting, call the Board of Elections and Ethics at 347-4509.