District of Columbia voters went to the polls Tuesday, a few of them anyway, to vote in mayoral and city council primary elections. Unfortunately, although I am a Washington resident, I was not one of them. My non-participation wasn’t due to a lack of interest but because I am an Independent voter. The DC Board of Elections officially lists my party affiliation as “No Party.” It’s a non-affiliation I claim proudly but it comes with a price. Like many millions of other unaffiliated voters around the country I am prevented from exercising the right to vote in partisan primary elections. The outcome of Tuesday’s election will have a significant impact on the future direction of the city and I would have liked to weigh in. Current Mayor Vincent Gray is facing probable indictment on corruption charges—five people who were connected with his 2010 campaign have already pleaded guilty to felonies related to that campaign.
City Councilor Muriel Bowser, the winner Tuesday out of seven Democratic challengers, received a total of only about 40,000 votes. In a city with 650,000 residents—370,000 of whom were eligible to vote in Tuesday’s primary according to the District’s Board of Elections—that’s a pretty small group to decide who the next mayor will be. City officials are saying once all of the ballots are counted it may prove to be the lowest turnout mayoral election ever.
Bowser will have a challenger in the general election. David Catania a former Republican, now an Independent and a member of the City Council since 1997, is also running for mayor. Polling shows him to be a serious candidate but history is against him.
Seventy-five percent of all registered voters in Washington are Democrats and the winner of the Democratic primary has gone on to become mayor in every election since the city began electing mayors in 1974.