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Posting to The Mail, July 4, 2005, by Kevin Kiger

International Legislators Vote Overwhelmingly in Support of DC Voting Rights
Kevin Kiger

On Saturday, July 2, the General Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) overwhelmingly approved the amendment brought forward by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) urging the United States to provide equal voting rights for the District of Columbia. The passage of the amendment comes one day after nearly three hundred supporters of DC voting rights took part in the "Equal Voting Rights for DC Rally" on Freedom Plaza. Rally participants encouraged members of the OSCE to support and pass the Norton amendment.

The language of the amendment "calls on the Congress of the United States to adopt such legislation as may be necessary to grant the residents of Washington, DC, equal voting rights in their national legislature in accordance with its human dimension commitments." With approximately fifty OSCE parliamentarians voting, only three voted against the measure, including Senator George Voinovich (R-OH). No calls were returned from Senator Voinovich's office at the time of this release. The Norton amendment is now part of a draft resolution. A vote on the draft resolution will take place on the morning of Tuesday, July 5. Sponsored by Rep. Norton, the amendment was cosponsored by U.S. Reps. Mike McIntyre (D-NC), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and by Senator Jerry Grafstein of Canada and by Barbara Haering of Switzerland.

For more information: read the approved amendment to the OSCE resolution supporting full congressional voting rights for DC, passed July 2 (http://www.dcvote.org/advocacy/material.cfm?leg=ID36); the Washington Post article "Think Locally, Ask Globally," by Mary Beth Sherdian (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/01/AR2005070101959.html); the Equal Voting Rights for DC Event press release, dated July 1 (http://www.dcvote.org/media/release.cfm?releaseID=190); and the DC city council's Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Emergency Resolution of 2005, passed unanimously on June 7 (http://www.dccouncil.washington.dc.us/images/00001/20050615145122.pdf). 

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ENROLLED ORIGINAL 

A RESOLUTION 16-173 
IN THE COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
June 7, 2005 

To declare, on an emergency basis, the sense of the Council on welcoming the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly to the District of Columbia and calling upon it to adopt a resolution at its assembly in support of full and equal voting rights for the citizens of the District of Columbia. 

RESOLVED, BY THE COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, That this resolution may be cited as the “Sense of the Council in Support of Full and Equal Voting Rights for Citizens of the District of Columbia Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Emergency Resolution of 2005”. 

Sec. 2.  The Council finds that: (1)  The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (“OSCE”) is made up of 55 states, including the United States, from Europe, Central Asia, and North America, and forms the largest regional security organization in the world. (2)  OSCE institutions include negotiating, decision-making, and operational bodies, which deal with a wide range of issues, including human rights issues. (3)  The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly will hold its first Annual Session meeting in the United States, July 1-5, 2005, in Washington, D.C. (4)   Approximately 572,000 residents of the District of Columbia, in violation of established international human rights standards, are denied full voting rights in their national legislature. (5)  Ensuring equal voting rights for citizens of member states is a fundamental OSCE commitment. 

Sec. 3.  It is the sense of the Council that: (1)  The Council of the District of Columbia welcomes the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly to Washington, D.C., and to the United States. (2)  The Council calls on the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly to adopt a resolution at its Annual Session observing that the approximately 572,000 residents of Washington, D.C., continue to be denied equal and full voting rights in the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate, and insisting that the government of the United States adopt such legislation as may be necessary to grant the residents of its capital city equal and full voting rights in their own national legislature.

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ENROLLED ORIGINAL 

Sec. 4.  The Secretary to the Council of the District of Columbia shall transmit copies of this resolution, upon its adoption, to the President of the United States, the Mayor of the District of Columbia, the District of Columbia Delegate to the United States House of Representatives, the chairpersons of the committees of the United States Congress with oversight and budgetary jurisdiction over the District of Columbia, the presiding officer of the OSCE, and the presiding officer of the OSCE’s Parliamentary Assembly. 

Sec. 5. This resolution shall take effect immediately.

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