D.C. Voters Approve Statehood Constitution and Nuclear Freeze

By Tom Sherwood and Courtland Milloy
The Washington Post
Wednesday, November 3, 1982

From The Washington Post archives, November 3, 1982

The proposed statehood constitution for the District of Columbia--the most controversial portions of which are likely to be changed by city officials -- won strong approval from city voters yesterday.

District voters also overwhelmingly approved an initiative calling for a nuclear weapons freeze. It won by a margin of more than 2 to 1.

According to complete returns from the city's 137 precincts, 59,300 people were in favor of the constitution compared to 52,177 against.

The freeze initiative, which was endorsed by most of the city's political leaders and also appeared on the ballots in nine states and 30 other local communities, had received 77,521 votes in its favor compared to 33,369 against.

The initiative would require the mayor to appoint an uncompensated commission to promote a nuclear weapons freeze in the United States and Soviet Union and redirect government resources toward human needs.

The fate of the constitution, which received only qualified support from most city officials, is still unclear, despite the outcome of the election.

The measure is still expected to undergo major revision by the City Council and still another submission to the voters before it is formally sent to Congress for ratification.

Nevertheless, yesterday's vote on the constitution marked still another milestone in the city's efforts toward increased home rule. But it posed a thorny political problem for some city politicians, who opposed many of the particulars of the document but did not want to be seen as being opposed to increased self-government for the city.

In the closing weeks of the campaign, a few delegates to the convention that drafted the document and many politicians who previously had offered only lukewarm support for the document, including Mayor Marion Barry, Del. Walter E. Fauntroy and several City Council members, urged voters to approve the measure anyway.

Such approval permits the document to be changed by the City Council rather than the 45-member convention that framed the document last sping. Some officials contended that the delegates lacked the political skill to draft a document that would be accepted by Congress.

At the District Building last night before final returns were in, three of the delegates who helped lead the fight against the measure, said that regardless of the final vote count, the heavy vote against it "was a mandate to change the document."

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