DC and the Presidential Election
One of the big issues in this election is voter suppression and the effect of all the new state laws and administrative procedures regarding voter identification to eliminate “voter fraud.” In addition, this presidential election looks like it may be one of the closest we have had and that there is even a possibility of a tie in the electoral college.
One neglected aspect of this is how it effects the District of Columbia, where somewhere between 618,000 (Census Bureau’s estimate as of July 1, 2011) and 635,000 (estimate based on fact that D.C.’s population has been growing by about 1,000-1,100 people a month over the past 15 months) people live. Since D.C. is not a state, the people of D.C. can only vote for President because of the 23rd amendment to the Constitution. However, if no candidate for president receives a majority of the votes in the Electoral College, the 12th Amendment provides that the House of Representatives, voting by states, with each state having one vote, shall choose the President from among not more than the three of the candidates having the highest numbers of electoral votes. Similarly, Senate shall choose the Vice President from the two highest numbers on the list. The net result is that the District of Columbia, instead of being partially disenfranchised from having a say in our national government, will be completely disenfranchised as we have no voting representation in the House. Like other American colonies, we only have a non-voting delegate.
This situation only accentuates the fact that D.C. is a colony of the rest of the United States and that we do not have the fundamental right to self-government, despite being the nation’s capital and a part of country from the very beginning, where for a brief while the people of what is now D.C. did have the same rights as other Americans. That all ended after we voted and helped elect Thomas Jefferson in 1800. From 1801 until 1961, when the 23rd Amendment was ratified, we had no right to vote for President. Even then, though, we only had a truncated right as the 23rd Amendment limits the number of electoral votes given to D.C. to that of the least populous state. In 1964, the first Presidential election since 1800 in which D.C. residents could participate, D.C. had sufficient population for four electoral votes (and more than eleven states), but received only three electoral votes.
If ever there was a situation that showed why it is outrageous that Americans who bear all the burdens of citizenship, including paying full Federal taxes and serving in the military (and dying for their country), don’t have the same right to self-government as other Americans merely because of their place of residence it is this one.