The Petition Challenge Process

Within 3 business days after the petition filing deadline, the Registrar issues a preliminary determination as to the sufficiency of a petition. A petition is sufficient if it:

  • Contains the minimum statutory number of signatures;
  • Is accompanied by a filer's affidavit which indicates that the petition is complete and numerically sufficient; and
  • Is on the form issued by the Board of Elections.

All petitions, including those preliminarily determined to be insufficient, are posted for a 10-day challenge period.  Assuming that the other qualifications are satisfied (including overcoming a preliminary determination of petition insufficiency), candidates whose petitions are not timely challenged will be certified for the ballot.

Challenges to nominating petitions must:

  • Cite, by page and line, signature and circulator defects;
  • Allege enough signatures defects such that, if all challenges were upheld/deemed valid, the petition would be numerically insufficient;
  • Be signed and timely submitted in person.
  • Appear on its face to be based on a good faith review of each signature and circulator affidavit. An absence of good faith may be determined where the Board’s preliminary review of the challenge indicates that the defect(s) alleged for a substantial number of signatures and/or circulator affidavits could not reasonably be found to apply to such signatures and/or circulator affidavits.

The grounds upon which a signature may be challenged are as follows:

  • Signer is not a registered voter;
  • Signer is inactive at time of signing;
  • Signer is registered at different address;
  • Signature is a duplicate;
  • Signature is not dated;
  • Signature is not accompanied by an address;
  • Signature is illegible and does not include printed name;
  • Circulator is not qualified to circulate;
  • The signature is an apparent forgery;
  • If applicable, voter does not reside in the Ward or SMD from which candidate seeks nomination; and
  • If applicable, voter is not registered in same party as candidate at time petition is signed.
  • For President, Delegate, US Representative, US Senator, and party committee offices, the signer is not a US Citizen.

If a signature is challenged on a particular ground and, in the course of investigating the challenge, Board staff discovers an unrelated fatal defect either on the face of a petition or pursuant to a record search concerning the specific allegation or challenge, the Board may, on its own motion, declare the signature(s) invalid, notwithstanding the defect was not alleged or challenged.

Within 3 days after the receipt of the challenge, the Office of the General Counsel serves a copy of the challenge upon the candidate and schedules a pre-hearing conference to review the challenge. The Registrar provides a preliminary determination regarding the challenge at this hearing. If the challenge is not resolved, it is scheduled for a Board hearing.

Challenges must be resolved by no later than the 20th day after the challenge was filed.

Within 3 days after the announcement of the Board determination, either the challenger or the challenged nominee may appeal to the D.C. Court of Appeals for an expedited review of the reasonableness of the determination. The court's decision is final and may not be appealed.