D.C. election laws require citywide candidates to hit up thousands of city voters for signatures just to get on the ballot. The idea is to force pols to interact with actual citizens as they launch their campaigns. Ward 5 Councilmember Vincent Orange, however, is proposing legislation to enable candidates to make the ballot with only the endorsement of their political party. Virginia and Maryland already allow Democrats and Republicans the same luxury, but Orange claims that his bill will make the privilege available to all parties, regardless of size. That could leave lowly independents as the only politicos accosting strangers in subway stations and Safeways. Unofficial parties may face petition discrimination as well. “The bill will empower parties, but it doesn’t prevent anyone from running,” says Orange. —Brian Montopoli