What is a Primary Election?
A Primary Election is the first step in the election process. In a primary, the voters registered with each of the major political parties select their party's representative, or nominee, to the General Election.
Primaries are held only for partisan offices (such as Delegate to the House, Mayor, Councilmember, and Senator and Representative). Only the Democratic, Republican, and D.C. Statehood Green parties are qualified to hold primaries in the District of Columbia.
Because primaries are party elections, only voters registered with one of these parties may vote in their party's election.
What is a General Election?
The General Election is the second, and final, step in the election process. All public offices in the District of Columbia including partisan and nonpartisan offices are elected through the General Election process. All registered voters, including independents, may vote in the General Election.
For partisan offices, the nominees who win their party's primary are listed on the ballot, along with any independent or minor party candidates who have qualified for the ballot by filing petitions.
Partisan offices, as mentioned above, include Delegate to the House, Mayor, Councilmember, Senator, Representative, and Attorney General. For the partisan offices, the candidate's party affiliation appears next to their name on the ballot. If the candidate is not affiliated with any political party, the word "independent" is printed.
For nonpartisan offices (such as Board of Education and Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner) the candidate's name is listed without party affiliation.