In A Hollow Vote Against D.C. Statehood, Arizona Legislature Stands Against Democracy
Arizonans Stand with 51 for 51 to Oppose Legislature’s Bill
Washington, D.C. — Today, the Arizona state legislature took a politically motivated vote to oppose D.C. statehood, despite growing support for statehood in Arizona and nationwide. This vote was a political stunt to stand against enfranchising over 700,000, mostly Black and Brown, Americans living in our nation’s capital without a vote in Congress. All Arizona Democrats stood united against the bill.
Supporters of 51 for 51 living in Arizona shared the following statements:
“As a proud Air Force veteran, it shakes me to my core that over 30,000 veterans live in the District of Columbia without a vote in Congress,” said Kate Smith, Arizona resident and veteran. “These brave Americans fought to defend democratic ideals, but returned home and couldn’t express their most basic American right: having their voices heard in the halls of power. Without Senators to call, our sibling veterans need us to speak up and champion their rights. Today, the Arizona legislature has failed not only these veterans but Arizonans and the entire population of Washington, D.C., — but I will keep fighting to defend my fellow Americans, and I call on my Senators to do the same.”
“On the heels of our very own state celebrating its 109th anniversary, Republican Arizona Representatives chose to stand against guaranteeing Washingtonians statehood after centuries of being denied a vote in Congress,” said Arizona House Rep. Athena Salman. “As one of the last states permitted to enter the union, this vote is not only un-American, but it is firmly un-Arizonan. Arizonans believe in honesty, integrity, and the founding principles of this country — including no taxation without representation. D.C. residents pay more federal taxes per capita than any other state, but they still do not have a vote in Congress. This politicized vote does not reflect the spirit of our state, and we must keep fighting until every American’s voice is heard in our democracy.”
The Arizona state legislature alleged several baseless claims in the bill and during debate. 51 for 51 is reminding legislatures of several critical points to set the record straight:
- Republicans claimed that D.C.’s disenfranchisement was the intent of the Founding Fathers, when in reality, the residents of D.C. could vote for members of Congress and for President when D.C. was formed. It wasn’t until 1801 that Congress passed the Organic Act and stripped D.C. residents of their voting representation in Congress and in the Electoral College.
- D.C. statehood is entirely constitutional. The proposed federal legislation to admit D.C. as the 51st state works within the confines of the 23rd Amendment to ensure that D.C. residents get the access to the vote that they deserve while preserving an independent federal district. Congress has Constitutional authority to admit new states, and Congress has admitted all new states by simple legislation.
- The Arizona legislature cites Federalist Paper 43 as a reason to stand against statehood, but James Madison actually argues that the liberties of Americans in one state affect justice for Americans in another state. The injustice affecting D.C. residents strikes at the heart of democracy even in Arizona.
- The fight against D.C. statehood has always been racially motivated. It is no coincidence that when D.C. was finally granted votes in the Electoral College in 1961the District’s population was 65 percent white and fairly evenly split in terms of party. That version of D.C. would certainly have been deemed worthy of Congressional representation. But enfranchisement stopped there because by 1970, over 70 percent of DC was Black. Today, a plurality of District residents are Black, and when it becomes a state, it will be the only majority-minority state in the country. With this vote, the Arizona legislature continues to undermine Black political representation.
51 for 51 is a coalition of D.C.-based and national groups committed to equal representation for the over 700,000 D.C. residents who remain locked out of our democracy. The coalition of 20 progressive groups believe American citizens living in the District deserve a voice in Congress and control over their own local laws. Already, President-elect Biden, Vice President-elect Harris, and Senators Warren, Markey, Gillibrand and Hickenlooper have endorsed 51 for 51’s proposed path to statehood.