September 15, 2005

TO:
  Members of the U.S. House of Representatives
FROM:
  Kay J. Maxwell, President
RE:
  H.R. 2043, the DC Fairness in Representation Act

The League of Women Voters urges you to cosponsor the DC Fairness in Representation Act of 2005 (“DC FAIR Act,” H.R. 2043).

Under the legislation, Utah would receive an additional fourth seat in Congress while congressional voting rights in the House of Representatives would be provided for American citizens living in Washington, DC. This balanced approach, developed by Representative Tom Davis (R VA) and supported by the DC City Council and Mayor, provides voting rights for District citizens without upsetting the partisan balance of the House.

The citizens of the District have always fulfilled the obligations of American citizenship by paying federal taxes, serving in the military, and contributing leaders in nearly every field of human endeavor. Yet American citizens who live in the District of Columbia are denied voting representation in the U.S. Congress, the very body that has ultimate authority over every aspect of the city's judicial, executive, and legislative functions.

Over the last 200 years, the principle that all citizens are entitled to a voice and a vote in their national government has emerged as a cornerstone of American democracy and a fundamental tenet of our Constitution. Although relatively few Americans were entitled to vote when the Constitution was adopted in 1788, virtually all restrictions on the franchise have since been eliminated, including those based on race, sex, wealth, property ownership, marital status and place of residence. Disenfranchisement of American citizens living in the District of Columbia is the last great exception to the constitutional principle of “one person, one vote.”

A basic principle of democracy is at stake. The United States is the only nation on earth that completely disenfranchises residents of its capital city in national legislative elections.

Americans living in the nation’s capital deserve to have voting representation in the body that makes their laws, taxes them and can call them to war. Only Congress can ensure that the democracy Americans have espoused and fought for across the globe becomes a reality in the nation’s capital.

We ask that you help fulfill the promise of American democracy by cosponsoring the DC FAIR Act.