Personal tools
 
Views

Debate: Washington, DC voting rights

From Debatepedia

Revision as of 02:29, 23 May 2010; Ifisher18 (Talk | contribs)
(diff) ←Older revision | Current revision | Newer revision→ (diff)
Jump to: navigation, search

Should DC residents have a right to vote for Presidential candidates?

Background and context

Voting rights of citizens in the District of Columbia differ from those of United States citizens in each of the fifty states. District of Columbia residents do not have voting representation in the United States Senate, but D.C. is entitled to three electoral votes for President. In the U.S. House of Representatives, the District is entitled to a delegate, who is not allowed to vote on the floor of the House, but can vote on procedural matters and in House committees.
The United States Constitution grants congressional voting representation to the states, which the District is not. The District is a federal territory ultimately under the complete authority of Congress. The lack of voting representation in Congress for residents of the U.S. capital has been an issue since the foundation of the federal district. Numerous proposals have been introduced to change this situation including legislation and constitutional amendments to grant D.C. residents voting representation, returning the District to the state of Maryland and making the District of Columbia into a new state. All proposals have been met with political or constitutional challenges; therefore, there has been no change in the District's representation in the Congress. The debate below features arguments for and against Washington, DC voting rights.

General Statements

Yes

  • Congress has power from the commerce clause to decide how to best govern DC. Congress regulates the flow of commerce between the District and the states, and that power is also expressly reserved in the Constitution for Congress to act on commerce 'among the several states.' This means Congress can decide that the best way to govern the District is for Washingtonians to have the same voting rights as other taxpaying Americans.[1]
  • State citizens living abroad can vote by absentee ballot at home. Dinh. - "The overseas voter need not be a citizen of the state where voting occurs. Indeed, the voter need not have an abode in that state, pay taxes in that state, or even intend to return to that state. If there is no constitutional bar prohibiting Congress from permitting overseas voters who are not citizens of a state to vote in federal elections, there is no constitutional bar to similar legislation extending the federal franchise to District residents."[2]




No

  • DC representation could only be achieved if D.C. was ceded back to Maryland. There is a precedent for this with Arlington and Alexandria were ceded back to Virginia in the 19th century.


Constitution

Yes

  • The Constitution grants Congress the authority to pass laws offering DC voting rights. The Constitution expressly says "the Congress shall have power ... to exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever".
  • The Constitution reserves the right of representation to "states" only, and DC is not a state. "Article I Section 2. The House of Representatives shall be composed of members chosen every second year by the people of the several states, and the electors in each state shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the state legislature.No person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the age of twenty five years, and been seven years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that state in which he shall be chosen."
  • Kenneth Star. "A republican, that is representative, form of government, is a foundational cornerstone in the Constitution's structure; the denial of representation was one of the provocations that generated the Declaration of Independence and the War that implemented it. Article I creates the republican form of the national government, and Article IV guarantees that form to its people, regardless of whether they reside in a District or a State."

No

  • DC voting rights would require that the Constitution be reformed.

Representation

Pro

Con

Equality

Pro

  • DC Residents deserve the same rights their fellow Americans have.

Con

International Law

Pro

Con

Economics

Pro

Con

Statehood

Pro

  • DC is treated like a state in federal law and practice, so why not in regard to voting rights.

Con

  • DC voting rights would require that D.C. be admitted as a state.

Morality

Pro

Con

Partisanship

Pro

Con

Democracy

Pro

  • DC residents denied American democracy. "Wesberry v. Sanders". Justice Hugo Black. February 1964. "No right is more precious in a free country than that of having a voice in the election of those who make the laws under which, as good citizens, we must live. Other rights, even the most basic, are illusory if the right to vote is undermined."

Con

Expert Opinion

Yes

  • President Dwight D. Eisenhower supported DC voting rights.[3]
  • Kenneth Starr, the former Clinton impeachment case special prosecutor.
  • Viet Dinh, the Georgetown law professor and former Justice Department official.


No

Click on the pencil icon and research and write arguments here

Public Opinion

Pro

Con

See also

External links and resources

Problem with the site? 

Tweet a bug on bugtwits
.