It was a historic moment last night when the issue of denial of territorial voting rights was heard for the first time in a US Congressional hearing.
Nearly 4 million Americans live in the US Territories but unlike Americans residing in the United States, these Americans are not afforded the right to vote for Congress or President simply because of their geographical location.
Rep. Marcia L. Fudge said it is time Congress allows voting in the US territories.
“Their residents serve in the armed services and rate historically among the highest of any in the nation. Our examination of the access to the ballot would be incomplete if we didn’t address access to the ballot in the US territories,” Fudge said.
Rep. Rodney Davis also had words of support in correcting the disenfranchisement of American voters in the US territories.
“The five inhabited incorporated territories of the United States have each contributed in countless ways to the American fabric. For instance, the rate of military service from these territories is traditionally much higher than the mainland average, their cultures make America better. However, they do not have voting representation in the United States,” Davis said.
Guam Congressman Michael San Nicolas took his five minutes on the issue, stating that every American living in America should be equally protected and represented in the law as Americans.
“Equally, as a non-voting member of this house, I have confidence that these present circumstances denying Americans of the opportunity of full representation is not borne out of malice by any member of this House. Plainly put, there is not a single member of Congress to my knowledge that relishes in the fact and seeks to perpetuate the reality that Americans in our territories are disenfranchised,” San Nicolas said.
Neil Weare, President of Equally American, the only civil rights organization that advocates for residents of U.S. territories, also provided this testimony: “We ask Congress to act so that citizens in the Territories can finally vote and have their voices heard. It is the right thing to do, the moral thing to do, and in 2020, it is long overdue,” he added.
Also testifying was Dr. Gwen Moolenaar, President of the League of Women Voters for the Virgin Islands, and Retired Virgin Islanders educator Gerard Emmanuel.