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D.C. Voting Rights Top League Legislative Priority for 1980
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D.C. Voting Rights Is Top League Priority for 1980 Legislative Session

Government derived from the consent of the governed is a cherished American tradition, but it has no meaning in our nation's capital. Close to 700,000 Americans living in the District of Columbia are taxed and carry the same obligations of citizenship as all other Americans; yet, they have no representation in the U.S. Senate, and only one non-voting delegate in the House of Representatives.

Early in its history, the League of Women Voters, itself born out of the struggle to get the vote for women, took up the cause of the disenfranchised citizens of D.C. We have been working for District representation in Congress since 1924. Now, this goal is in sight. In 1978, Congress approved and sent to the states for ratification a proposed constitutional amendment which would give the District:

  • Two senators.

  • The number of House members its population demands (1 or 2).

  • The number of presidential electors commensurate with its population.

  • Participation in the ratification of constitutional amendments.

So far, six of the required 38 state legislatures have ratified the proposed D.C. amendment. In Hawaii, the legislature considered the amendment during the 1979 session. It passed the Senate by a vote of 22 to 2, but did not reach the floor of the House. The ratification resolution does not carry over; it must be reintroduced and acted on by both houses in 1980.

The League of Women Voters of Hawaii is planning an action campaign in which every League member can participate. The League and Common Cause-Hawaii are working to put together a coalition of groups supporting ratification. We have contacted over 20 local groups, including political action organizations, unions, and church groups, and have expressions of support from more than half of them already. We hope to show legislators that there is a broad-based community support for ratification.

Here's how you can help:

  1. Be informed. Read "Simple Justice," the League publication included with this Leo Hana.

  2. Contact your legislators. During session, we will call on all League members to contact their legislators urging them to vote for ratification. In the meantime, if you talk to a legislator, voice your interest, as a citizen, in passage of the amendment.

  3. Get in on the action! We need help contacting possible supporters, drafting letters and testimony, and talking to legislators. Please call Carol Whitesell (261-6114) if you can help.

D.C. voting rights is not a highly charged issue like ERA, and it may seem remote from our concerns in Hawaii. But it has to do with the most fundamental principle of American democracy. The opposition to the amendment nationally, is vocal and well-financed, and it is already working on our legislators. The longer passage is delayed, the harder our job will be. Let's see that Hawaii ratifies in 1980!

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