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Can Residents Of Washington Dc Vote

author
Paul Gonzalez
• Friday, 08 January, 2021
• 18 min read

Suffrage and representation of the United States capital Satellite view of the District of Columbia in relation to the states of Maryland and Virginia. The District's lack of voting representation in Congress has been an issue since the capital's founding.

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Contents

Numerous proposals have been introduced to change this situation, including legislation and constitutional amendments, returning the District to the state of Maryland, and making the District into a new state. All proposals have been met with political or constitutional challenges, and there has been no change in the District's representation in Congress.

In 1783, a crowd of disbanded Revolutionary War soldiers angry about not having been paid gathered to protest outside the building where the Continental Congress was meeting. The soldiers blocked the door and initially refused to allow the delegates to leave.

Despite requests from the Congress, the Pennsylvania state government declined to call out its militia to deal with the unruly mob, and so Congress was forced to abruptly adjourn to New Jersey. This led to the widespread belief that Congress needed control over the national capital.

43, “Without it, not only the public authority might be insulted and its proceedings interrupted with impunity; but a dependence of the members of the general government on the State comprehending the seat of the government, for protection in the exercise of their duty, might bring on the national councils an imputation of awe or influence, equally dishonorable to the government and dissatisfactory to the other members of the Confederacy.” This belief resulted in the creation of a national capital, separate from any state, by the Constitution's District Clause.

To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular states, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States. There were a number of reasons why voting rights for the District was not addressed.

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One was that it was effectively agreed at an early stage that the capital was to be in the South, and Northerners would have bitterly opposed any clause that would give the South even more voting power. Moreover, given the capital's planned location, many delegates assumed its permanent residents would largely consist of slaves unable to vote in any case.

They also expected the federal government would only operate on a part-time basis, and assumed that those who were chosen to serve in federal office and those whose occupations would require them to spend time in the district would come mostly from the upper echelons of society and would therefore have the means to maintain residency (and voting rights) in their home states. In 1788, the land on which the District is formed was ceded by Maryland.

In 1790, Congress passed the Residence Act placing the District on the Potomac River between the Anatolia and Conococheague Creek with the exact location chosen by President George Washington. His selection was announced on January 24, 1791, and the Residence Act was amended to include land that Virginia had ceded in 1790.

The Congress did not officially move to the new federal capital until the first Monday in December 1800. During that time the District was governed by a combination of a federally appointed Board of Commissioners, the state legislatures, and locally elected governments.

We shall be reduced to that deprecated condition of which we pathetically complained in our charges against Great Britain, of being taxed without representation.” The following year, the Board of Commissioners was abolished, the City of Washington was incorporated, and a local government consisting of a locally elected 12-member council and a Mayor appointed by the President was put in place.

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By the 1930s, the District of Columbia was administered by House committees that had little regard for the concerns of the local population; the representative Ross A. Collins from Mississippi cut spending on local funds for welfare and education stating that “my constituents wouldn't stand for spending money on niggers “. In the 1950s, as part of the larger Civil Rights Movement, interest emerged in giving the District full representation.

As a compromise, the Twenty-third Amendment was adopted in 1961, granting the District a number of votes in the Electoral College in measure to their population, but no more than the smallest state. This right has been exercised by the Districts' residents since the presidential election of 1964.

In 1980, District voters approved the call of a , just as U.S. territories had done prior to their admission as states. The proposed state constitution was ratified by District voters in 1982 for a new state to be called “New Columbia”, but the Congress has not granted statehood to the District.

Additionally, until May 2008, the Congress prohibited the District from spending any funds on lobbying for voting representation or statehood. On December 29, 2003, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States concluded that the United States is violating the District of Columbia's rights under Articles II and XX of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man by denying District of Columbia citizens an effective opportunity to participate in the Congress.

The Commission reiterated the following recommendation to the United States: “Provide the Petitioners with an effective remedy, which includes adopting the legislative or other measures necessary to guarantee to the Petitioners the effective right to participate, directly or through freely chosen representatives and in general conditions of equality, in their national legislature”. A 2005 poll paid for by the advocacy group D.C. Vote, but conducted by the non-partisan polling firm ARC Research, found that 82% of 1,007 adults believed that D.C. should have full congressional voting representation.

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There are arguments for and against giving the District of Columbia voting representation in the Congress. Advocates of voting representation for the District of Columbia argue that as citizens living in the United States, the District's estimated 672,228 residents should have the same right to determine how they are governed as citizens of a state.

At least as early as 1776, George Mason wrote in the Virginia Declaration of Rights : That elections of members to serve as representatives of the people, in assembly, ought to be free; and that all men, having sufficient evidence of permanent common interest with, and attachment to, the community, have the right of suffrage, and cannot be taxed or deprived of their property for public uses without their own consent, or that of their representatives so elected, nor bound by any law to which they have not, in like manner, assented, for the public good.

Justice Hugo Black described the right to vote as fundamental in Westerly v. Sanders, 376U. S.1 (1964). He wrote, “No right is more precious in a free country than that of having a voice in the election of those who make the laws under which, as good citizens, we must live.

The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act allows U.S. citizens to vote absentee for their home state's Congressional representatives from anywhere else in the world. If a U.S. citizen were to move to the District, that person would lose the ability to vote for a member of the Congress.

Scholars have argued that if U.S. citizens who are residents of other countries are allowed to vote in federal elections, then the Congress can extend the same rights to residents of the nation's capital. The primary objection to legislative proposals to grant the District voting rights is that some provisions of the Constitution suggest that such an action would be unconstitutional.

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How the House of Representatives is to be composed is described in Article I, Section 2: No Person shall be a Representative ... who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.

Representatives ... shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed.

In addition, the Seventeenth Amendment correspondingly describes the election of “two Senators from each State”. Those who believe D.C. voting rights legislation would be unconstitutional point out that the District of Columbia is not a U.S. state.

Since this amendment's adoption in 1961, the District has had three electoral votes in each presidential election. Unlike residents of U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico or Guam, which also have non-voting delegates, citizens of the District of Columbia are subject to all U.S. federal taxes.

The slogan currently appears on the city's vehicle license plates. The issue of taxation without representation in the District of Columbia is not new.

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The difference between requiring a continent, with an immense population, to submit to be taxed by a government having no common interest with it, separated from it by a vast ocean, restrained by no principle of apportionment, and associated with it by no common feelings; and permitting the representatives of the American people, under the restrictions of our constitution, to tax a part of the society...which has voluntarily relinquished the right of representation, and has adopted the whole body of Congress for its legitimate government, as is the case with the district, is too obvious not to present itself to the minds of all. Although in theory it might be more congenial to the spirit of our institutions to admit a representative from the district, it may be doubted whether, in fact, its interests would be rendered thereby the more secure; and certainly the constitution does not consider their want of a representative in Congress as exempting it from equal taxation.

In 1971, Susan Brookfield sued to recover three years of income taxes she paid to the District of Columbia because she said she was a victim of taxation without representation. Opponents of D.C. voting rights point out that Congress appropriates money directly to the D.C. government to help offset some of the city's costs.

However, proponents of a tax-centric view against D.C. representation do not apply the same logic to the 32 states that received more money from the federal government in 2005 than they paid in taxes. Additionally, the federal government is exempt from paying city property taxes and the Congress prohibits the District from imposing a commuter tax on non- residents who work in the city.

Limiting these revenue sources strain the local government's finances. Like the 50 states, D.C. receives federal grants for assistance programs such as Medicare, accounting for approximately 26% of the city's total revenue.

Congress also appropriates money to the District's government to help offset some of the city's security costs; these funds totaled $38 million in 2007, approximately 0.5% of the District's budget. In addition to those funds, the U.S. government provides other services.

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For example, the federal government operates the District's court system, which had a budget of $272 million in 2008. Additionally, all federal law enforcement agencies, such as the U.S. Park Police, have jurisdiction in the city and help provide security.

In total, the federal government provided about 33% of the District's general revenue. On average, federal funds formed about 30% of the states' general revenues in 2007.

Opponents of D.C. voting rights have also contended that the District is too small to warrant representation in the House and Senate. However, sponsors of voting rights legislation point out that both Wyoming and Vermont have a smaller population than the District of Columbia.

In modern times, all elections held in the district have been overwhelmingly won by the Democratic Party. The Democrats' support of increased D.C. representation in Congress and the Republicans' opposition to it have been alleged to be purely for self-serving reasons.

Advocates for D.C. voting rights have proposed several, competing reforms to increase the District's representation in the Congress. These proposals generally involve either treating D.C. more like a state or allowing the state of Maryland to take back the land it ceded to form the District.

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The constitutional argument about whether Congress can provide the District of Columbia with a voting member in the House of Representatives, but not in the Senate, is heavily debated by each side. In Hepburn v. Eliza (1805), the Supreme Court held that the right of residents of the District to sue residents of other states is not explicitly stated in.

In National Mutual Insurance Co. v. Tidewater Transfer Co., Inc, 337U. S.582 (1949), the Supreme Court held that Congress could grant residents of the District of Columbia a right to sue residents of other states. However, opponents of the constitutionality of the legislation to grant D.C. voting rights point out that seven of the nine Justices in Tidewater rejected the view that the District is a “state” for other constitutional purposes.

Opponents have also pointed out that if the power of Congress to “exercise exclusive legislation” over the District is used to supersede other sections of the Constitution, then the powers granted to Congress could potentially be unlimited. On January 24, 2007, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) issued a report on this subject.

According to the CRS, “it would appear likely that the Congress does not have authority to grant voting representation in the House of Representatives to the District.” A secondary criticism of a legislative remedy is that any law granting representation to the District could be undone in the future.

Additionally, recent legislative proposals deal with granting representation in the House of Representatives only, which would still leave the issue of Senate representation for District residents unresolved. Thus far, no bill granting the District voting representation has passed both houses of Congress.

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Proposals during administration of George W. Bush The Justice Department during the administration of President George W. Bush took the position that “explicit provisions of the Constitution do not permit Congress to grant congressional representation to the District through legislation.” Various such proposals were considered by the Congress during Bush's tenure: 1285 and S. 617) would have treated D.C. as if it were a state for the purposes of voting representation in the Congress, including the addition of two new senators; however, the bill never made it out of committee.

The District of Columbia Fair and Equal House Voting Rights Act of 2006 (H.R. 5388) would have granted the District of Columbia voting representation in the House of Representatives only.

The District of Columbia Fair and Equal House Voting Rights Act of 2007 (H.R. 328) was the first to propose granting the District of Columbia voting representation in the House of Representatives while also temporarily adding an extra seat to Republican-leaning Utah to increase the membership of the House by two.

The addition of an extra seat for Utah was meant to entice conservative lawmakers into voting for the bill by balancing the addition of a likely-Democratic representative from the District. The District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act of 2007 (H.R.

This bill would still have added two additional seats to the House of Representatives, one for the District of Columbia and a second for Utah. The bill was then referred to the Senate (S. 1257) where it passed in committee.

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However, the bill could only get 57 of the 60 votes needed to break a Republican filibuster and consequently failed on the floor of the Senate. Following the defeated 2007 bill, voting rights advocates were hopeful that Democratic Party gains in both the House of Representatives and the Senate during the November 2008 elections would help pass the bill during the 111th Congress.

Barack Obama, a Senate co-sponsor of the 2007 bill, said during his 2008 presidential campaign that as President he would continue to support the rights of DC residents. Proposal during administration of Barack Obama On January 6, 2009, Senators Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Senator Orin Hatch of Utah, and D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton introduced in the House the District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act of 2009 (H.R.

However, before passing the bill, the Senate adopted an amendment by Senator John Ensign that would have removed the authority of the District of Columbia to prohibit or unduly burden the ability of its residents to possess guns in their homes, on their property, or at their places of business. Following the Senate's passage of the bill, as amended, House Majority Leader Stony Homer said on March 4 that he had postponed a House vote on the bill for at least a week, but it quickly became clear there were not enough votes to bring the bill to the floor without any amendments.

Despite Homer's efforts to have the amendment's supporters withdraw it and propose it as separate legislation, and Norton's efforts to achieve consensus within the District's political community, where there is strong opposition to Ensign's amendment, Homer had to announce on June 9 that the bill was on hold indefinitely. In April 2010, the bill rather abruptly returned to the agenda, but the week a vote was expected, Homer declared the bill was unlikely to be passed during the 111th Congress.

District politicians reiterated their opposition to the House passing the bill with Ensign's amendment. The Justice Department has split over the constitutionality of legislation to give the District of Columbia voting representation in the House of Representatives.

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The Office of Legal Counsel reported to Attorney General Eric Holder that the proposed legislation would be unconstitutional, but Holder overrode that determination and instead obtained an opinion from officials of the United States Solicitor General's office that the legislation could be defended if it were challenged after its enactment. The process of reuniting the District of Columbia with the state of Maryland is referred to as retrocession.

The District was originally formed out of parts of both Maryland and Virginia which they had ceded to the Congress. However, Virginia's portion was returned to that state in 1846; all the land in present-day D.C. was once part of Maryland.

If both the Congress and the Maryland state legislature agreed, jurisdiction over the District of Columbia could be returned to Maryland, possibly excluding a small tract of land immediately surrounding the United States Capitol, the White House, and the Supreme Court building. One problem with any of these proposals, according to one Virginia Republican in a 1999 interview, is that the state of Maryland does not currently want to take the District back.

Retrocession could also alter the idea of a separate national capital as envisioned by the Founding Fathers. It may also violate the Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution's granting of votes in the electoral college, as they would still be constitutionally granted to the district.

A proposal related to retrocession was the District of Columbia Voting Rights Restoration Act of 2004 (H.R. Maryland's congressional delegation would then be apportioned accordingly to include the population of the District.

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Those in favor of such a plan argue that the Congress already has the necessary authority to pass such legislation without the constitutional concerns of other proposed remedies. From the foundation of the District in 1790 until the passage of the Organic Act of 1801, citizens living in D.C. continued to vote for members of Congress in Maryland or Virginia; legal scholars therefore propose that the Congress has the power to restore those voting rights while maintaining the integrity of the federal district.

Given the potential constitutional problems with legislation granting the District voting representation in the Congress, scholars have proposed that amending the U.S. Constitution would be the appropriate manner to grant D.C. full representation. District of Columbia Voting Rights Amendment In 1978, the Congress proposed the District of Columbia Voting Rights Amendment.

Murkowski's proposal Senator Lisa Murkowski believed the District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act of 2009 would be unconstitutional if adopted, and so she proposed a constitutional amendment to provide the District with one representative. Unlike the District of Columbia Voting Rights Amendment, Murkowski's proposal would not have provided the District any Senators or a role in the constitutional amendment process.

Article IV, Section 3, Clause 1 of the Constitution gives the Congress power to grant statehood. In 1980, local citizens passed an initiative calling for a constitutional convention for a new state.

In 1982, voters ratified the constitution of a new state to be called “New Columbia”. Like retrocession, it has been argued that D.C. statehood would erode the principle of a separate federal territory as the seat of the federal government and that a constitutional amendment would be needed to avoid a violation of the Constitution's District Clause.

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However, the Council of the District of Columbia passed legislation making the proposed name “State of Washington, D.C.” Under this proposed name “D.C.” stands for “Douglass Commonwealth,” a reference to the historic abolitionist Frederick Douglass. On June 26, 2021, the House of Representatives passed a bill to grant statehood to the District (H.R.

The Office of Management and Budget said President Donald Trump's advisors would recommend he veto H.R. Other countries with federal systems similar to the U.S. extend full voting rights to residents of the federal capital, comparable to those of a constituent state.

Berlin, the capital of Germany, is also both a city and one of the sixteen states and is represented on the same basis as the other states in the directly elected Bundestag, in which it has about twenty-four directly elected seats, and the indirectly elected Bundesrat, to which its Senate (or executive) sends four members. Paris, the capital of France, a unitary country, is also one of the special status collectivizes, and is nevertheless represented on the same basis as the other departments in the National Assembly and the Senate.

Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, is not located in a special district and is instead part of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, of which it is also seat. The Federal National Council is half elected and half appointed by the respective Rulers, with the Emirate of Abu Dhabi being allocated 4 elected seats, which is the highest number and on par with the Emirate of Dubai.

It is a member of the so-called National Cabinet set up to replace COAL when dealing with COVID-19. ^ District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act of 2007: Hearing Notes.

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Washington : The City and Seat of Government (PDF). ^ “Statement on the subject of The District of Columbia Fair and Equal Voting Rights Acts” (PDF).

“D.C. Seeks to Fund Lobbying Effort for a Voting House Member”. ^ Statehood Solidarity Committee, Case 11.204, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (Organization of American States), Report No.

“Testimony before the Committee on Government Reform” (PDF). ^ “A History of the Debate”, The Washington Post (February 25, 2009) ^ “Individuals Living or Working in U.S.

^ “Internal Revenue Gross Collections, by Type of Tax and State, Fiscal Year 2007” (XLS). ^ “Federal Spending Received Per Dollar of Taxes Paid by State, 2005”.

^ “Introduction to the FY 2007 Budget and Financial Plan”. ^ Political party strength in the District of Columbia ^ a b c Will, George F. (March 29, 2007).

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“The Authority of Congress to Enact Legislation to Provide the District of Columbia with Voting Representation in the House of Representatives” (PDF). “D.C. Vote in Congress: House Judiciary Committee”.

“The Constitutionality of Awarding the Delegate for the District of Columbia a Vote in the House of Representatives or the Committee of the Whole” (PDF). “Constitutionality of D.C. Voting Rights Act of 2007,” Archived March 25, 2009, at the Payback Machine Testimony to Senate Subcommittee (May 23, 2007).

^ “District of Columbia Fair and Equal House Voting Rights Act of 2006 (109th Congress, H.R. ^ “District of Columbia Fair and Equal House Voting Rights Act of 2007 (110th Congress, H.R.

^ “District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act of 2007”. ^ “District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act of 2007 (110th Congress, H.R.

^ “District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act of 2007 (110th Congress, S. 1257)”. ^ “Two More DC Superdelegates Endorse Barack Obama”.

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^ H.R.267, District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act of 2011, Bill and Summary and Status, congress.gov. ^ a b “District of Columbia Voting Rights Restoration Act of 2004 (108th Congress, H.R.

DC Council approves name change if city becomes state”. CS1 main: uses authors parameter (link) ^ Office of Management and Budget (June 24, 2021).

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