Credit: Darrow Montgomery

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Still feeling patriotic after the Fourth? Want to express your civic engagement by carving out your own electoral fief in the District?

Here’s how you can do that. As of Monday, registered D.C. voters who have lived in their neighborhoods since at least June 9, 2018 can go to the D.C. Board of Elections and pick up nomination petitions to run for seats on advisory neighborhood commissions, the hyperlocal bodies that represent residents across the District’s eight wards thanks to the Home Rule Charter.

ANCs are made up of smaller areas called single member districts, which include about 2,000 residents each and provide the seats up for election. Currently, the District has almost 300 SMDs. (You can find out which ANC and SMD you live in here.) Commissioners issue opinions on government decisions involving public land and infrastructure. They also broker deals with real estate developers over community benefits from certain projects, and with restaurants over liquor licenses.

In theory, ANCs give neighborhoods a voice in issues that affect them, and the D.C. government is supposed to afford their opinions “great weight.” The positions are unpaid, and winning commissioners work two-year terms, with elections held every other November. Some commissioners have used ANCs as stepping stones to higher office, like seats on the D.C. Council. Others have turned heads while serving.

Residents who want to run for ANC in the Nov. 6 election must collect signatures from at least 25 registered voters in their SMDs and turn them into the Board of Elections by 5 p.m. (“not 5:01!”) on Aug. 8. Per the board:

Candidates must go to the Board personally to pick up their petitions, or send a representative to pick them up. (If you send a representative, you will need to give your representative a letter authorizing them to pick up the petitions on your behalf.)  In addition to the petitions, the Board will also give the candidates a list of the registered voters who live in their SMD and a map of the SMD’s boundaries. Candidates will also need to file a “Declaration of Candidacy”.  You can file this form when you pick up the petitions, or you can file it when you turn in your petitions, but you must file it before the August 8th deadline if you wish to have your name on the November 6th ballot.

DCBOE, which recently moved, is located at 1015 Half St. SE. New ANC commissioners will be sworn in on Jan. 2.