For Immediate Release:
October 8, 2019
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - firstname.lastname@example.org
Councilmember Grosso introduces bills to enhance representation in local government
Washington, D.C. – Councilmember David Grosso introduced three bills today that create a local government that is more representative, better reflects the preferences of residents, and includes those whose voices have been left out of local decisions.
“Over the past few weeks we have renewed our focus on making the District of Columbia the 51st state and finally ending the injustice that has deprived our residents of a voice in our federal government,” said Grosso. “While this fight is of paramount importance, it is equally important to examine the ways we can improve representation in our own local government.”
Accurately reflecting the will of voters
“Too often in the District of Columbia, we see victors emerge from a crowded field with far less than a majority of the vote,” Grosso said. “That may be even more likely to occur now as the Fair Elections program I introduced, and this Council passed, has successfully encouraged more residents to seek elected office.”
The Ranked Choice Voting Amendment Act of 2019 introduced by Grosso today would implement ranked choice voting, sometimes called instant runoff voting, in D.C. elections.
Ranked choice voting ensures that individuals receive a majority of the vote of the electorate by allowing voters to rank the choices on their ballots in order of preference. Tabulation of results proceeds in rounds. The first round eliminates the person with the fewest votes, then reallocates those votes to the voter’s second choice in the next round. This continues until one person receives a clear majority of the vote.
“This important legislation will increase voter turnout as voters will be free to mark their ballot for the candidate that they truly prefer without fear that their choice will help elect their least preferred candidate,” said Grosso.
Currently, Maine and 11 cities utilize ranked choice voting for their elections.
The bill was co-introduced by Councilmembers Elissa Silverman, Brianne Nadeau, and Mary Cheh and was referred to the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety.
A voice in government for permanent residents
Grosso also re-introduced the Local Residents Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2019, which allows permanent residents in the District of Columbia, who are on the path to U.S. citizenship, the right to vote in local D.C. elections for Mayor, Council, State Board of Education, Advisory Neighborhood Commission, and Attorney General.
“While our rallying cry for statehood has included the mantra ‘No taxation without representation’ the same can be said for our legal permanent residents who use our streets, send their children to our schools, and pay taxes just like any other resident—and deserve a voice in our democracy,” said Grosso.
The bill was co-introduced by Councilmembers Elissa Silverman, Robert White, Brianne Nadeau, Jack Evans, Brandon Todd, and Charles Allen and was referred to the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety.
Greater representation in local government for all
Finally, Grosso introduced the Enhanced Representation Charter Amendment Act of 2019 which would reform the District of Columbia legislature to provide D.C. residents additional input into the local political process.
“I have often said that in a city as large as ours with a population greater than some states, 13 members can be insufficient to tackle the multitude of issues we see regularly in a meaningful way,” said Grosso.
The legislation creates a bicameral legislature for the District made up of a Senate of nine senators and an Assembly of twenty-seven Representatives. This bill also makes the elections to the legislature non-partisan, ensuring that one party primary does not serve as a de facto general election.
“With more representatives representing fewer residents, public input can be better captured at each stage of the legislative process,” said Grosso. “And additional elected officials and staff mean more time and thought dedicated to improving our legislative outcomes.”
The bill was co-introduced by Councilmembers Robert White and Brianne Nadeau and referred to the Committee of the Whole.
“While the residents of the District of Columbia deserve representation in the U.S. Congress, they also deserve a local government that better represents everyone who is affected by our decisions. One that truly reflects their preferences in candidates. And one that provides residents multiple avenues to affect the decisions we make every day on their behalf,” concluded Grosso.