Kent Bush: D.C. helps elect president but can’t vote in Congress
I know politics has made visiting social media sites almost unbearable for most of us.
All of these friends and family members who you enjoyed keeping up with when they posted family photos, funny thoughts and random updates have become more obnoxious than Thanksgiving dinner at the home of James Carville and Mary Matalin.
I often wonder how many times one of these amateur political commentators has this thought: “You know, I don’t pay much attention to politics. I wonder if I will show my ignorance and lack of perspective by posting this obviously biased link with my rambling commentary on it?”
I don’t think it happens very often ñ at least not on my friends list or among those I follow.
Finding out what people don’t know can be disappointing. Ignorance is bliss. That is why life seemed better before you heard your friend’s rationale for which candidate they support.
Likewise, I wonder how many people even know that the Electoral College includes more than just the 50 states. Congress is made up of representatives and senators from the 50 states.
Several groups have non-voting delegates to Congress. Those include American Samoa, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Northern Marianas Islands, Guam and the District of Columbia.
But only one of those non-voting delegations gets to help elect the president. The 23rd Amendment gave the District of Columbia the right to choose electors for the Electoral College depending on population up to the amount of the least populous state. So with more than a half-million residents, the District of Columbia has three electoral votes.
The capital of the United States had been housed in both New York and Philadelphia when our country was young.
But George Washington was allowed to choose the permanent home during the country’s infancy. He called it Federal City.
In 1801, after Congress met there for the first time, presidential voting rights were suspended for residents of the district, which became known as Washington, D.C., in honor of the president who chose it.
However, about 160 years later, the Constitution was amended to allow residents there to choose electors.
Their first electors were selected on Nov. 3, 1964. The district has never cast an electoral vote for a Republican. In fact, in the last four elections, the Democratic candidate has received at least 85 percent of the popular vote in D.C.
Washington D.C. was run by Congress for 175 years. In 1973, the district elected its own mayor and council but Congress is still the supreme governing body and can overturn local ordinances.
So as D.C. prepares to award electoral votes for the lucky 13th time, now you know that they can help elect a president, can’t vote in Congress and can pass local laws that may be overturned by Congress.
Washington, D.C., is one of many districts that have hoped to add their star to Old Glory. You can see why residents there would enjoy autonomy granted to states rather than the fruit cocktail of governance policies they endure now.
Kent Bush is publisher of the Augusta, Kan., Gazette.