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D.C. judge to hear motion on AG election delay ahead of ballot deadline

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A D.C. Superior Court judge will hear arguments Thursday from the city's sole candidate for attorney general, who is seeking to keep the election on the April 1 primary ballot despite lawmakers' decision to delay it.

Judge Laura A. Cordero granted the emergency hearing after the D.C. Board of Elections made it clear that the office intended to print primary ballots that do not include attorney general candidate Paul Zukerberg, according to court documents.

The "issue needs immediate resolution because after this week, on or after February 8, 2014, Defendant BOE intends to print the primary election ballots without reference to the Attorney General election," Mr. Zukerberg's attorney, Gary Thompson, wrote in court filings requesting the hearing. "The matter cannot wait until just prior to the April 1 election, as there are advance requirements to print ballots, mail them to non-resident voters (including military personnel abroad), and make other preparations."

A spokeswoman for the D.C. Board of Elections declined to say whether the board intends to print ballots without including the attorney general election, but added that the board intends to comply with whatever the court rules in the upcoming hearing.

The Office of the Attorney General, which is defending the board in the lawsuit, confirmed that Friday is the deadline for the board to transmit the ballot to printers in order to have the final ballots in time for the April 1 primary.

Voters in 2010 approved a charter amendment authorizing the first election of the city's attorney general and setting a primary election for April. Fearing that the city wasn't prepared for the election of an attorney general, the D.C. Council passed a bill in October that pushed back the race until 2018.

Mr. Zukerberg sought to challenge the law in federal court in November, but U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg denied a preliminary injunction on the grounds the case was not yet "ripe for review" because the law postponing the election had not yet taken effect.

Though passed by the D.C. Council in October, laws are required to pass a 30-legislative-day review period from Congress before taking effect.

The law delaying the attorney general election took effect in early January.

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