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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

D.C. Voting Rights

Current Legislation in 2009/2010

The District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act (H.R.157/S.160) will give the District of Columbia a voting member in the House of Representatives. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton currently represents the District in the House, participating in debate and committees, but her delegate status does not allow her to vote on final passage of legislation.

Though district residents pay federal income tax and serve in the military, the District of Columbia is the world's only national capital of a democracy whose residents do not have voting representation in the nation's legislative body.

The bill will increase the permanent House membership from 435 to 437 by giving one seat to the District of Columbia, and adding a fourth seat for Utah. This will be the first increase in 96 years.

The Senate passed the DC House Voting Rights Act on February 26, 2009. However, a vote in the House was delayed after a failed attempt to remove an amendment to the bill that would repeal the District's gun control laws. Many supporters of D.C. voting rights in the House would not vote for the bill with the gun amendment included.

History of D.C. Voting Rights

Though district residents pay federal income tax and serve in the military, the District of Columbia is the world's only national capital of a democracy whose residents do not have voting representation in the nation's legislative body.

District residents have protested their lack of voting representation in Congress since 1801, the year Congress annexed the District of Columbia to create a federal district that would serve as the nation's capital. During the next 150 years, there were numerous unsuccessful attempts to pass legislation that would give voting rights to D.C. residents.

In the 1950s, President Eisenhower, a strong advocate of D.C. voting rights, called for D.C. suffrage during several of his State of the Union speeches. His efforts led to passage of the 23rd Amendment, which allowed D.C. residents to vote for president for the first time in 1964.

In recent years, several attempts to pass legislation to give D.C. a voting member in the House of Representatives have come up short, but the 2009 bill has a good shot at passing both houses of Congress.

Wade Henderson's Congressional Testimony

Leadership Conference Letters in Support of D.C. Voting Rights

D.C. Voting Rights 2002-2007

Our Members