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Democracy in our nation?s capital : towards the DC Voting Rights Act (DCVRA)

by Eve Robert // Published January 14, 2009
Most Americans assume that all U.S. citizens have a right to vote and a right to representation. However, this is not the case for the half a million residents of the District of Columbia, who currently have no congressional voting rights, even though they fulfill all the responsibilities of citizenship (military service, federal taxes…). Indeed, the District of Columbia is the only jurisdiction in the United States where citizens have no vote on how the government spends their money as well as on important issues affecting nearly every aspect of their daily lives, including: health care, Social Security, environmental protection, crime control, public safety and foreign policy.

In the last Congress, this democracy denial has been addressed by a DC Voting Rights Act, co-sponsored by then-Senator Barack Obama, which came within 3 votes of winning. Indeed, it has already been reintroduced in both the House of Representatives (HR 157) and the Senate (S 160), and is gaining huge momentum. The bill is positioned to move quickly through the various committees and to be adopted by both chambers, with wide support from across the aisle. Excitement and desire for change are rising among DC residents. The DC VRA would permanently add two members to the House of Representatives, one for the District of Columbia, and one for Utah until the next congressional reapportionment after the 2010 Census. You can find more info about the bill on DC Vote website.