Thursday, March 13, 2008

What's Oregon Got to Do With It? The Fight for DC Voting Rights

The following article (on at appears as a Guest Column by Jaline Quinto. Chec k out the great work that our Oregon Team is doing!

By Jaline Quinto, of Washington, DC. Jaline works in communications for DC Vote, an organization dedicated to securing full congressional representation for the nearly 600,000 residents of Washington, DC.

It’s been a centuries-long struggle to end taxation without representation, and it’s a fight that DC residents are just a few votes shy of winning. DC Vote, an organization dedicated to securing full congressional representation for Washington, DC, has launched an aggressive campaign to educate constituents in states where Senate members are filibustering the DC Voting Rights Act (S. 1257).

The bill is merely an incremental step towards full representation for residents of our nation’s capital – allowing for one voting member in the House of Representatives. Yet on September 18, a minority of Senators, including Gordon Smith (R-OR) chose to block an up or down vote on the bill – the first filibuster of voting rights legislation since the days of segregation.

Senator Smith voted the Republican Party line, telling the Oregonian in a written statement that, "the District of Columbia should find its congressional franchise through the state of Maryland, by statute, or through the Constitutional amendment process," The former idea is clearly unconstitutional and the latter is simply unnecessary. Even conservative constitutional scholars agree that Congress has the authority to grant voting rights to DC citizens without a Constitutional amendment.

So then…why are nearly 600,000 residents denied the same representation their fellow Americans in the states enjoy? We at DC Vote think the answer is fairly simple: because people in the states who have a vote and a voice don’t know about the issue of DC’s lack of democracy. That means Congress gets to keep its dirty little secret about denying a vote to more than half a million, mostly African American, residents of our nation’s capital.

There is an upside to Americans’ lack of knowledge on the subject, though. DC Vote’s polling shows that once state residents learn about this injustice, they overwhelmingly support voting rights for the people living in the District. Our recent trip to Montana to engage and mobilize voters shows that Americans believe in democracy for all citizens and feel passionately that DC residents deserve a seat at the table.

In many ways, the voices of constituents in the states (where Congress members’ votes actually count) can help DC achieve full voting representation. Indeed, it may be the only way. DC Vote will be in Oregon from March 10-13, and we hope to meet with as many constituents as possible. Join us on Thursday, March 13, in Portland for a Bus Project & DC Vote co-sponsored Happy Hour event to learn how Oregonians can help change the lives of more than half a million Americans who demand a vote. Information and event details are available at

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