Voting Rights for the residents of the District of Columbia


On Thursday, March 15, 2007 the House Judiciary Committee approved of legislation (H.R. 1433, the District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act) which would provide the residents of the District of Columbia with full voting rights in the House of Representatives. The bipartisan 21 to 13 vote followed similar action in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee (which approved of the bill by a bipartisan margin of 24 to 5 a week earlier) and means that the bill may now be considered by the full US House of Representatives, probably as soon as the week of March 19, 2007.

The NAACP strongly supports the bipartisan H.R. 1433, the District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act introduced by Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC) and Congressman Tom Davis (VA) and others as a good first step toward the goal of full statehood. H.R. 1433 would add two voting members to the US House of Representatives ? one to represent Washington, DC and one to represent Utah (Utah narrowly lost getting an additional congressional seat after the last US Census in 2000; officials in Utah believe that thousands of missionaries living abroad were unfairly excluded during the Census count.) This bill addresses that concern and provides a "vote neutral" option by adding two additional seats most likely to be represented by a Democrat and a Republican.

Despite the fact that they pay federal taxes, serve on juries and defend our Nation in times of war like most other Americans, the residents of the District of Columbia are barred from having voting representation on the floor of the U.S. House or Senate. This classic example of "taxation without representation" is contrary to everything that this nation is founded on. This means that more than half a million people, more than 57% of whom are African American (with Caucasians making up just over 30% of the population and 8.5% of the residents claiming Hispanic background), are paying money to and dying for a government in which they have no say. It also means that the federal government is receiving and spending $4 billion without having to account for it. In fact, the residents of the District of Columbia pay more federal taxes per capita than all but one other state.