Washington Takes Vote Battle to Queen
||BBC News (UK)
||Wednesday, July 3, 2002
Washington is the seat of Congress, but cannot vote
A group demanding voting rights for Washington DC is to mark America's Independence Day by asking Queen Elizabeth to place the US capital under British rule.
Washington has only one, non-voting delegate in the US Congress, despite residents paying federal taxes. In a tongue-in-cheek gesture, the lobby group, DC Vote, is presenting a "Declaration of Reunification" to the British Embassy.
"It was on July 4th (1776) that we first declared independence from Great Britain, and we did so based on the important principles, that there should be no taxation without representation," DC Vote spokesman Paul Strauss told the BBC.
"It's a perfect opportunity to take the anniversary of that great document - the Declaration of Independence - and show that many of the things we accused the Crown of, Congress does to the America citizens in Washington today," he said.
The city and the District of Columbia it occupies were created in the late 18th Century as a seat for the new federal government.
In 1800, Congress claimed complete control over what was then a small federal enclave.
But despite its growth into a major metropolis, its residents were not allowed to vote in presidential elections until the 1960s.
The District was not allowed to elect its own mayor and local government until the 1970s.
Congress in 1978 approved a constitutional amendment giving the District voting rights - but the move did not receive the necessary support of three-quarters of the states and failed.
In 2000, the city of Washington DC adopted a new licence plate motto for vehicles: "Taxation without representation".
Former US President Bill Clinton used it for his official limousine, to highlight his support for full voting rights for Washington DC.
Long to reign over US?
Mr. Strauss points out that with 600,000 residents, the federal capital is more populous that some states - while its political influence remains minimal.
Wyoming has fewer people, he says, yet it is represented by three members of Congress.
"What we would like our majesty to do is to intercede on our behalf," Mr. Strauss said.
"We were once subjects of the crown, so we think it's time for Great Britain to protect the democratic rights of American citizens here in Washington."