By: Matt Issent
The District of Columbia, the federal district of the United States is commonly referred to as Washington or D.C., it has the highest population density of any U.S. state or territory with over 11,000 people per square mile. D.C. like other non-states, territories’ residents do not have any voting representation in Congress and is the only U.S. area forced to pay federal income tax. With this disdain for paying federal taxes without representation in Congress, grassroots activists changed the D.C. license plates to “Taxation Without Representation” and sequentially to “End Taxation Without Representation” as of April 2017. Additionally these grassroots activists have made numerous attempts at statehood and gaining voting Representatives and Senators in Congress.
Before we begin going through the history of D.C. attempting to get statehood and comparing other nations’ federal districts and how they operate, we must first discuss what D.C. has and does.
Since the 23rd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was adopted in 1961, D.C. is entitled to the same number of electoral votes as that of the least populous state in the presidential election, that being three Electoral College votes, the same as Vermont and Wyoming. Interestingly if the top 50 most populated states, territories, and commonwealths were the United States 50 states rather than how they currently exist today then Puerto Rico the 29th most populated and D.C. the 50th most populated would replace Vermont, 51st and Wyoming 52nd. Changing how the federal government would operate and represent today.
When we compare other national capitals to D.C. it becomes even odder that D.C. does not have the ability to be represented in federal policy and votes. For example; Berlin the capital of Germany and Brussels the capital of Belgium, are both similar to states by having the ability to directly elect members to their national legislatures. Other national capitals like Ottawa the capital of Canada and Bern the capital of Switzerland are both parts of ‘states’ (province for Ottawa and canton for Bern) and share the same ‘state’ rights as any other city within its ‘state’ border. With this information in mind it wouldn’t be strange if D.C. was reincorporated back into Maryland, the state that provided the federal government the land for D.C., and thereby giving D.C. the same state designated rights that any other city in Maryland would have.
There have been several attempts within the last twenty years to have D.C. become a state or acquire federal congressional representation, but all have failed. The District of Columbia’s residents argues that they should not be required to pay federal tax as they do not have representation in the federal government in the form of Senators and Representatives. In 2016, a citywide vote was held on whether D.C. should become the 51st state, unsurprisingly 86 percent of voters approved the proposal.