Last week the Democratic National Committee, in an effort led by the DNC Voting Rights Institute Chairwoman Donna Brazile, voted unanimously to support legislation that would finally give the nearly 600,000 disenfranchised residents of the District of Columbia voting representation in Congress.
The DNC’s support couldn’t come at a more critical moment. Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton and Republican Representative Thomas Davis III have reintroduced the DC Fair and Equal House Voting Rights Act (H.R. 328) which had wide bipartisan support in the last Congress but was never scheduled for a floor vote by Republican House leaders. The bill would add a seat for heavily Republican Utah (which missed an additional seat by 1,000 residents due to an erroneous Census report that failed to count 14,000 Mormon missionaries temporarily living abroad) and the historically Democratic nation’s capital.
It seemed like a done deal with Democrats who have long championed DC voting rights now in the Majority. But internal party disagreements have threatened the legislation. Notably, Representative Henry Waxman and others have voiced concerns that the bill adds an electoral vote for Utah but not the District, and he fears it could cost Democrats the presidency. Others worry that Utah redistricting might jeopardize the sole Democratic Congressman in the state’s Congressional delegation, Rep. Jim Matheson.
But this isn’t about partisanship, the presidency, or protecting seats. It’s about doing the right thing to promote democracy. Which is why Brazile and the DNC’s 50-state campaign to garner support for the bill is so important. For those who live in the DC area there will be a Lobby Congress Day on February 15. If you can’t be there in person, take a moment to contact your representative and urge support for H.R. 328.