Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Make DC's Vote Count

In this most recent presidential election the District of Columbia voted 91% for Senator Kerry. Time after time the Democratic candidate can count on DC's 3 electoral votes, and can completely ignore the District's otherwise disenfranchised population. Four years ago, one of DC's electors cast a blank ballot to protest DC's structural impotency to govern even its own affairs. This brave action gives me an idea how DC could make its voice count in the presidential election.

The concept is simple: instead of voting for presidential candidates or parties, DC should vote for actual electors. Barbara Lett-Simmons (the faithless elector in 2000) is a reasonably well-known name to DC's electorate. The club of people involved in DC politics is relatively small. Witness the recent re-election of DC's ignominious former mayor Marion Barry back to the city council. DC residents would certainly recognize the names of electors on the ballot.

What good would this do? It would allow DC residents to send a more specific message to the Democratic candidate. For example, one could imagine a candidate from DC's Statehood party (the second largest political party in DC, with the Republicans a distant 3rd) promising to cast a blank ballot, as did Ms. Lett-Simmons. A candidate from the Green party might promise to vote for the Green candidate unless that would decide the election, in which case he would vote for the Democrat. Or, a candidate might promise to withhold his vote until the Democratic candidate promised to push for DC representation in Congress and increased home rule.

Most people in America don't realize that DC residents do not have a representative in Congress. Most Americans don't realize that DC can't even spend its own money, raised with its own taxes, without permission from Congressmen that they are not allowed to vote for. A candidate for elector might promise to vote for Marion Barry for President unless the Democratic candidate gave a speach endorsing DC Statehood.

DC residents have very few platforms for making their voice heard, they should not be throwing away this platform with 80-point margins; they should be using their vote to speak truth to power.

I hope this idea will help.


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