Stockholm and Bonn, London and Paris, Rome and Reykjavik -- in each of those world capitals, citizens have full voting representation in the national legislature. But not here.
Five years ago, Congress took the first step toward correcting that clear, compelling injustice. It passed the D.C. Voting Rights Amendment, and sent it to the 50 state legislatures. If 38 of them ratified it, we in the capital of the free world would have senators and representatives--with all the rights and privileges of other members--for the first time.
Well, 38 states have not ratified the VRA since 1978. Only 12 have. All the rest defeated the measure, either in committee or on the floor of the state senate or house. With the 1985 deadline looming, many observers of the ratification effort think things are looking dark.
But they started looking brighter in the last month than they had in the previous two years. First Maine, then West Virginia, saw the justice in the VRA and passed it. Most other state legislatures are now in session, and many can be expected to act favorably on the VRA this spring, according to its supporters.
The VRA supporter in this corner is going to keep a running score of the VRA's progress. But I'm also going to urge any of you with political connections in states that haven't passed the bill to get on the phone.
The act will go nowhere if state legislators don't think Washingtonians care. If we do, let's call or write officeholders in states where we once lived. Let's also call or write influential citizens in those states, to see if they'd be willing to help.
The League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia is coordinating efforts to contact state legislators. If you'd like to volunteer, or if you need further information, call Anna Ellenbogen at 244-4834.
Oh, yes. The states that have ratified the VRA are Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, West Virginia and Wisconsin. All the others are fair game.