The Petition Challenge Process

The List of Candidates, the List of Registered Non-Resident Circulators, and the List of Challenges are posted on the 2024 Elections page.

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.

Petitions are posted and available for review in the Board’s office or via an emailed secure link. All requests, whether in person or online, must be made by completing a Data Request Form (linked in the “Additional Forms” section below). Petitions emailed via a secure link are free. Reviewing copies of a candidate’s petition sheets in the Board’s office is also free. Paper copies of petitions can be made for the cost of $0.25 / page via check or money order payable to the D.C. Treasurer. There is a $30 service fee for all returned checks.

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.
  • Circulator did not or could not have personally witnessed the person sign the petition.*

*This update clarifies the statutory requirement that circulators must “[p]ersonally witness each person sign the petition” (DC Code § 1–1001.08(b)(3)(B), which includes (but is not limited to) scenarios involving pre-dated circulator affidavits (see BOE Administrative Orders 20-024, 22-006, 22-018, 22-025) and/or digitally circulated petitions wherein the circulator does not witness the voter signing the petition (see BOE Administrative Order 24-005). A DCMR rulemaking update that addresses this clarification, which is consistent with the statute and the above-referenced Board Administrative Orders, is in process.

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.

Upon the receipt of a properly filed challenge, the Office of the General Counsel shall promptly serve a copy of the challenge upon the candidate by email 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.