NOT SO long ago, Democrats in the District of Columbia had high hopes that their presidential primary, the last before the party’s nominating convention next month, might actually make a difference. Instead, the District finds itself in a familiar position in the nation’s political landscape: that of an afterthought. Nonetheless, there are important reasons for voters to turn out.
The primary was scheduled late in part to coincide with local races, thereby saving some money, not a bad impulse. If former secretary of state Hillary Clinton had not scored decisive victories in the California and New Jersey primaries, securing enough delegates to clinch the nomination, the contest here might indeed have attracted more national attention. As it is, the presidential primary comes too late to matter — and the local races arguably are still too early. There’s a case to be made for holding those in September, when local voters might be paying more attention.
For the District, as we said, this feels all too predictable. Some 600,000 U.S. citizens who live in Washington have no voting representation in the House or Senate, an unconscionably undemocratic state of affairs that is no less galling for being an affront of long standing. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) has proposed a new push to win statehood for the District; other advocates argue for the incremental step of securing at least a voting representative in the House. Either would represent progress. Both Democratic presidential candidates, Ms. Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), support an end to the District’s colonial status, but as always the question is how hard they would work for change against united Republican opposition. We hope Ms. Clinton would make it a higher priority if elected president than the incumbent has.
In any case, it remains important for voters to participate in local democracy, where they will find lively contests in four out of the five races for D.C. Council on Tuesday’s ballot. (Council member Jack Evans is uncontested in Ward 2.) The winners of the Democratic primary all are likely to take office in January, given the overwhelming Democratic advantage in the District. In the contested races, we have endorsed Vincent B. Orange for reelection to his at-large seat; Brandon T. Todd for Ward 4; Yvette M. Alexander for Ward 7 and LaRuby May for Ward 8.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Information on polling places is available from the D.C. Board of Elections.