DC's First-In-The-Nation Presidential Primaries
Remarks Before the DC City Council by Ilir Zherka
For more information contact: James Jones, Communications Director
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October 3, 2003
Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee, on behalf of DC Vote I would like to congratulate you on your leadership in moving the primary.
Because of your efforts, the efforts of people in this room, the Council, and the Mayor, DC's quest for equality is playing out on a world stage.
Make no mistake: the District's primary will have national implications.
Increasingly the presidential candidates are competing here, and the person who wins in the nation's capital will receive a significant boost in his or her campaign, one that could potentially lead to the Democratic nomination.
Our collective goal when we supported making the DC primary first in the nation was to draw attention to DC's lack of voting representation in Congress. That goal has been achieved.
While we continue to pursue that goal, we must include another important goal: voter turnout.
Others have talked this morning about making it as easy as possible for people to vote in the primary and that is important. We would like to focus the Council's attention on voter education as a first and critical step in the effort.
Despite the amount of coverage the primary has received nationally, locally many are still unaware of the new primary date.
We understand that the Board of Elections will send out at least one letter informing people about the primary. But, let us remember that the media worldwide will report who won the DC primary. We want them to report also that the District was successful in getting out the vote.
To accomplish that goal, the DC government must lead a comprehensive effort to educate the public about the primary. That effort should include at a minimum multiple letters to registered voters in the District, along with radio, television, and print ads asking people to cast a vote for voting rights. Furthermore, that effort must begin in November and continue right up until the primary.
We are certainly willing to partner with the District to ensure that these goals are achieved effectively and efficiently.
While we do not know today who will win DC's primary, we do know that DC will win over more people if we turn out the vote. Let's work together to ensure that failure is not an option. Thank you.
(Check Against Delivery)