Tuesday, September 18, 2007

No Taxation Without Representation

Being a legal resident of the great swing state of Florida, I decided against registering as a DC resident because I hated the idea of giving up a valuable vote for a nonexistent one. (I guess every vote is supposed to count, but let's be honest - our electoral system means a Florida vote in an election that could go either way is worth way, way more than a vote in DC, which is heavily Democratic. Plus, Florida actually has Senators and Representatives. Anyway.)

The issue of whether to give the nation's capital the vote is a big, big deal around these parts. The slogan on the license plates is "no taxation without representation," people. Apparently people have very strong feelings about the issue. Well, apparently DC voting rights activists have figured out a way to try to get some movement: trade the DC (shoe-in Democratic) vote for a new district ( = new Representative = new vote) in Utah. That would bring the grand total of reps in the House to 437 without fundamentally changing the balance of power between the parties.

Someone in the Senate (Lieberman maybe? I need to check on that) put in a bill to do exactly that, and the Senate is debating it today. DCist is doing live updates on the debate, which you can follow here if you're at all interested. The educated guess is that there will be a filibuster, so they'll need 60 votes to pass the bill. I think it's pretty great to hear Sen. Hatch from Utah stressing the need to give the DC residents the vote - 'cause you know that's what he really cares about, and not the fact that his state will get one more voice in the House. Anyway, it's an interesting issue that's not going to go away anytime soon.

NB: I'm pretty sure the US Constitution established the seat of government as neutral territory, while giving Congress the power to change the number of representatives in the house pretty easily. So even if the bill passes, you can bet on a constitutional challenge in the Supreme Court, which, given its makeup, would probably take the conservative stance and require the government to go about the (very long and onerous) process of actually amending the Constitution itself before DC gets the vote.

You can read more about the campaign to get DC the vote here. (If anyone knows of a website with a decent argument against DC voting rights, please pass it along.)

UPDATE: Taxation without representation continues, as the Senate votes 57-42 in favor of closing the debate on the DC voting rights bill (aka, not enough votes, so no pass). For DCist's take on what this really means, click here.

(For added ridiculosity, note the line about how Congress has passed a law that forbids DC from using its own funds to lobby for voting rights.)

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