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American democracy for America's capital.

In this 109th Congress, the League of Women Voters is working again with a coalition of national organizations to resolve a problem it has been working on for several decades. That problem is the denial of voting rights in Congress to nearly 600,000 Americans living in America's capital, Washington, DC.

The District of Columbia is the only jurisdiction in the United States where Americans pay federal taxes, fight and die for America in times of war and serve on federal juries. Yet, its residents have no voting representation in Congress--no vote in the U.S. Senate and no vote in the U.S. House of Representatives. They have no vote on health care, no vote on jobs, no vote on judges, no vote on the economy and no vote on security. The list is endless.

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Denial of democracy to the District of Columbia affects American foreign policy. The United States of America is violating international law when it denies DC residents equal voting rights in Congress. The leaders of other countries are using this fact as a bargaining chip, claiming that until the U.S. brings democracy to the residents of its capital, it can forget about preaching democracy to them.

According to a January 2005 national poll, 82 percent of Americans from coast-to-coast believe that DC residents deserve full voting representation. Despite this support, Congress isn't solving the problem. This is not a partisan issue--overwhelming majorities of Democrats and Republicans support DC voting rights.

For years, organizations like the LWV and DC Vote have fought to increase national awareness of the DC voting rights movement and advocated in Congress for immediate change. The fruits of that labor are beginning to pay off.

On May 3, 2005, Congressman Tom Davis (R-VA) reintroduced the DC Fairness in Representation Act (DC FAIR Act, H.R. 2043) with bipartisan co-sponsorship and the support of the DC City Council and Mayor. Together with the No Taxation Without Representation Act (S. 195, H.R. 398), sponsored by Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), there is growing bipartisan interest in addressing the lack of voting representation in Congress for District residents.

The DC FAIR Act represents renewed momentum and a creative approach to addressing this issue. Democrat-leaning Washington, DC, would be given one voting representative in the U.S. House of Representatives. In exchange, a House member would also be added to historically Republican Utah, a state that narrowly lost an additional congressional seat after the 2000 U.S. Census.

DC residents are counting on the members of the League and others around the country to contact their members of Congress and urge them to support DC voting rights legislation, stop this denial of American rights and finally bring American democracy to America's capital. Join us. Go to www.dcvote.org to get involved and learn more.

VOTER LINKS

* DC Vote/DC FAIR Act: www.dcvote.org/events/event.cfm?eventID=139

* DC Vote/No Taxation Without Representation Act: www.dcvote.org/events/event.cfm?eventID=120

* LWVUS: http://takeaction.lwv.org

BY ILIR ZHERKA

Executive Director of DC Vote
COPYRIGHT 2005 League of Women Voters
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2005, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:SOUNDING OFF
Author:Zherka, Ilir
Publication:National Voter
Date:Oct 1, 2005
Words:521
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