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D.C. Prepares For Attorney General Election That May Not Happen

Despite ongoing legal uncertainties around a planned election for D.C.'s attorney general, the city's Board of Elections is preparing for the office to be on the November ballot.

The elections board announced yesterday that it will make nominating petitions for the attorney general's race available today, along with petitions for all other offices that will appear on the November ballot. Candidates for citywide office — including the attorney general's seat — have to collect 3,000 signatures over the next two months to qualify for the ballot.

The move comes amidst continued uncertainty over whether the election will even happen this year. In 2010, D.C. residents overwhelmingly voted to move from an appointed to an elected attorney general, but legal battles have since ensued over whether the election would be held in 2014 or 2018. In late 2013, the D.C. Council formally delayed the election to 2018.

In February, a D.C. judge ruled that the attorney general's race would be kept off of the April primary ballot, but this month a panel of judges on the D.C. Court of Appeals said that the election has to happen in 2014 or, if not practically possible, in 2015.

D.C. Attorney General Irv Nathan has said that he will appeal to the full Court of Appeals, hoping to delay the election until 2018. In a statement released earlier this month, he said he would argue that it's not practical for the elections board to hold the election in November.

Regardless, the board will make nominating petitions available today, a move that drew support from Paul Zukerberg, who declared he would run for the office last year and filed suit to keep the contest on the ballot for 2014.

“The board’s timely action will allow D.C. voters to elect their attorney general on November 4, along with the Mayor and other important citywide offices,” he said.

If the attorney general's race does not make it on the Nov. 4 ballot, it could still happen as a special election, which costs roughly $1 million to organize.

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