Medical Whistleblower Advocacy Network

Human Rights Defenders

Congressional Hearing on DC Statehood

The Right to Vote is Denied to Residents of the District of Columbia

The United States government has systematically denied the residents of the District of Columbia the right to enjoy equal political participation in their own national legislature. The residents of the District of Columbia— the nation’s capital—are denied the fundamental right to equal suffrage in the U.S. Congress. They’re prohibited from voting for and electing representatives to the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives. The residents of the District of Columbia are the only U.S. taxpaying citizens denied the right to universal and equal suffrage.

Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton is a non-voting member of the United States House of Representatives. She is only allowed to vote on procedural matters and in congressional committees. Thus D.C. Residents have no representation in the U.S. Senate.

Thus, by denying citizens of the District of Columbia the right to fully participate in the national government, the United States of America is not in compliance with international human rights treaties.  This fundamental human right is guaranteed under Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Article 25: Every citizen shall have the right and the opportunity, without any of the distinctions mentioned in article 2 and without unreasonable restrictions:

(a) To take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives;

(b) To vote and to be elected at genuine periodic elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret ballot, guaranteeing the free expression of the will of the electors;

(c) To have access, on general terms of equality, to public service in his country.

In addition, the lack of representation for the citizens of D.C. in national government is also not in compliance with Articles II and XX of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man.

Article II. All persons are equal before the law and have the rights and duties established in this Declaration, without distinction as to race, sex, language, creed or any other factor.

Article XX. Every person having legal capacity is entitled to participate in the government of his country, directly or through his representatives, and to take part in popular elections, which shall be by secret ballot, and shall be honest, periodic and free.

The citizens of the District of Columbia should have the effective right to participate, directly or through freely chosen representatives and in general conditions of equality, in their national legislature. It has long recognized by the international community that representative democracy and its associated political rights are essential to the effective realization and protection of human rights. It is the participation of citizens in their government which forms the basis and the true support of a democracy.

Democracy cannot exist without it, for the title to government rests with the people, the only body empowered to decide its own immediate and future destiny and to designate its legitimate representatives. Neither political life, nor institutional change, nor development planning or the control of those who exercise public power can be made without representative government.

Bowser and Norton hope 2019 is the year for D.C. statehood

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez Question Line at Hearing on DC Statehood

Rep. Connolly's Question Line at Hearing on DC Statehood

Capitol Hill Press Briefing Following DC Statehood Hearing, 9/19/19