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I would like to address some issues discussed by Westy Byrd (The Mail, 11/15). Byrd is an advisory “neighborhood” commissioner from Georgetown (2E04). She advocates that college students (G-town, GW, Mount Vernon, etc.) are not residents (unless raised here) and should not be allowed to vote in city elections.
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Byrd seems to be single-handedly trying to rewrite the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics rules regarding voting. Fortunately, her desires are in conflict with the U.S. Constitution’s provisions that deal with voting. She contends that voting is a “privilege” not a right, and since students, in her words, do not take “the responsibilities of residency—i.e., paying taxes, registering their cars, etc.” they should not vote in D.C. The 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that voting is a right. It also states that no one shall have to pay a tax (including income tax) to vote—no one. Other provisions in the Constitution that deal with the right to vote are the 26th, 19th, 15th, and 14th Amendments as well as Article I, Section 8. A ‘neighborhood’ commissioner should know this.
Yet, undaunted by the fact that she has no legal basis to back up her argument, Byrd boldly has decided to sue in court to overturn the elections to the Georgetown Advisory “Neighborhood” Commission of her “neighbors” James Fogarty and Rebecca Sinderbrand. There is a potentially dangerous flaw in Byrd’s argument. She contends that students are not a part of her or any “neighborhood”; either that, or she has decided that she is not an advisory “neighborhood” commissioner, but an advisory “go back to your own damn states and only allow D.C. residents who were born here to go to college in D.C. at UDC” commissioner. Now if only the city would keep from closing UDC.
Chairman, DC Capital Consortium
via the Internet