DC Judge Tosses Lawsuit Against Open Primaries, Ranked Choice Voting Ballot Measure

Photo Credit: Maria Oswalt on Unsplash


A DC Superior Court tossed a lawsuit Thursday that attempted to block a ballot initiative that would open the District of Columbia's primary elections to independent voters and implement ranked choice voting in all city elections.

The lawsuit was filed by the DC Democratic Party in August not long after the DC Board of Elections unanimously said it was okay for the reform initiative, now known as Initiative 83, to appear on the 2024 ballot if it gets enough signatures.

Judge Carl E. Ross determined that the lawsuit was filed prematurely

Initiative 83, spearheaded by Make All Votes Count DC, would allow 16% of registered voters not affiliated with a political party to choose a party's ballot in the primary. This amounts to over 73,000 voters. 

Currently the city uses taxpayer-funded closed partisan primaries, which deny these voters a meaningful say in elections. With ranked choice voting added, the reform initiative takes a comprehensive approach to enacting better elections in the nation's capital.

Make All Votes Count DC needs to collect 30,000 signatures by July 8 to qualify for the November ballot. These signatures must be acquired from 5 of the city's 8 wards.

According to the campaign, it is now a third of the way to that goal

“Voters are enthusiastically in support of our effort to achieve ballot access,” says Kris Furnish, Field Director and Steering Committee member for the initiative's campaign.

“I’ve seen firsthand when petition circulators mention ‘ranked choice voting,’ voters stop in their tracks, immediately turn around, and ask to sign the petition.”

The earliest the reforms would be implemented in city elections is 2026. This not only comes down to Initiative 83 being approved by voters, but any potential funding requirements being appropriated by the DC City Council.

Image reference
Photo Credit: Maria Oswalt on Unsplash