America's commitment to the democratic principles that assure that every voice is heard, every vote is counted -- which is being played out in the spellbinding saga of Florida's vote recount -- is a bittersweet irony for those living in the nation's capital, who for 200 years have had no voice in Congress.
Amy Whitcomb Slemmer is well known for her concern about the lack of congressional representation for the citizens of the District of Columbia. She is executive director of DC Vote, a group dedicated to educating the public about the need for D.C. voting rights. That campaign has resulted in the District adopting new license plates that read "Taxation Without Representation."
Mayor Anthony Williams proclaimed today "Driving Toward Democracy Day" as an excited crowd, from all parts of the city, descended on the Department of Motor Vehicles to show their enthusiast support for the new "Taxation Without Representation" license plate, which decries 200-years of injustice in the nation's capital. The mayor was joined at the podium by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, members of the D.C. Council, and representatives of DC Vote. They then kicked-off the license plate campaign by ceremoniously removing the old plates from their cars and replacing them with the new ones.
In a surprise announcement last evening, Mayor Anthony Williams pledged to raise one million dollars for the campaign to achieve full representation in Congress for the citizens of the District of Columbia. The mayor's promise was part of his opening remarks at a welcome reception for DC Vote's new executive director, Amy Whitcomb Slemmer.
Today DC Vote joined citizens and local officials, including Council member Carol Schwartz and a representative from the office of Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Ca.), in front of the D.C. Superior Court to support seven people whose trial began today on charges of disrupting Congress. The "D.C. Democracy 7" were arrested on July 26th in the U.S. House of Representatives Visitors' Gallery after they spoke out in opposition to the bill's social riders, which would prohibit or severely restrict a number of popular and effective health programs for D.C. residents.
Today the highest court in the land declined to hear arguments by District of Columbia plaintiffs in the Alexander v. Mineta voting rights case, adding fuel to the fires of a rebellion growing in the nation's capital. Alexander v. Mineta sought to redress the 200-year-long disenfranchisement of the people of the District by arguing that District citizens have a constitutional right to representation in Congress. The people of Washington, D.C., who suffer the second highest tax burden in the nation, have no representation in the U.S. Senate and are represented only by a nonvoting Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Walter A. Smith, who has spent almost three years sitting behind a desk as an attorney on a D.C. voting rights case, is now astride his bicycle as he continues to make the case that the citizens of the District of Columbia should have fully empowered congressional representatives.
Ushering in the July 4th weekend with a new online campaign to focus on democracy in the nation's capital, DC Vote and SpeakOut.com launched a partnership today that brings powerful online tools to all who want to make their voice heard on the issue of congressional representation for the District of Columbia.
The national polling data released here at a today's press conference by Mark David Richards, of Bisconti Research, gives strength to the citizens of Washington, D.C., who seek representation in Congress equal to that of their fellow citizens. The research shows that a stunning 72 percent of Americans, across the demographic and political spectrum, support equal voting rights in Congress for their fellow citizens who live in the nation's capital. Today's survey research reveals a gap between how Americans feel their fellow citizens should be treated and the way that Congress has chosen to treat them.
The citizens of our nation's capital have been travelers on the road to justice for 199 years. We were hoping that the Alexander v. Daley lawsuit would shorten our journey to equal rights. Yesterday's three-judge ruling that District citizens do not have a legal right to vote in Congress did not speed our journey. This disappoints us, but it does not surprise us.