D.C. Voting Rights Have a Friend in New Hampshire
The New Hampshire House passed legislation today expressing its support for D.C. to be fully represented in Congress, in a 145-133 vote.
What does this mean for D.C.? On a practical level, absolutely nothing.
Symbolically, however, this could help build momentum for activists who are rallying for D.C. statehood, or at least a vote in Congress. This is the first time in 30 years that a statewide legislative body elsewhere has passed a bill—even a symbolic resolution, which this one is—in favor of D.C. voting rights, according to D.C. Councilmember David Catania, who testified in February at a New Hampshire House committee hearing on the resolution. In 1984, Delaware passed a similar statement.
But while this is merely a gesture of support from one of the smallest states in the country, it doesn't mean it was easy to snag. Two years ago, District officials had traveled to New Hampshire to try and get the state to support D.C. statehood. That resolution failed, 8-3, in committee.
New Hampshire was the first stop in what D.C. legislators said would be a national tour to gain momentum for D.C. statehood. (Read more about those efforts in this 2012 Washington City Paper story.)
While Catania said on his website that this was a "major step" in the effort to make D.C. voting writes a national issue, D.C. Shadow Senator Michael D. Brown wrote in a letter to the Concord Monitor in early March that New Hampshire legislators should actually be pushing for statehood, not voting rights.
"Voting rights granted by Congress can be taken away and will not resolve the current inequity of no budget or legal autonomy for District of Columbia," Brown wrote. "Only statehood is permanent and provides the equality that is a prerequisite of our democracy."
Read the text of the bill here.
Photo of New Hampshire seal via Wikimedia Commons