WASHINGTON - The District of Columbia has been without voting rights for more than 200 years, and for the past 16, a local organization has lobbied to change this.
"If we want to be beacons of democracy abroad, we have got to be that shining example here at home," says Kimberly Perry, executive director of D.C. Vote, a group of 40,000 people and institutions who lobby for voting rights in the District.
"We pay taxes, for example. We serve on juries. Our sons and daughters go off to fight for war and democracy in other locations, but we don't have full voting rights."
Perry says D.C.'s lack of representation in Congress has direct impacts on the city. It delays funding to schools, omits residents from important decisions on infrastructure and transportation and affects the area's public health programs.
But Perry thinks D.C.'s growing population could have a positive impact on voting rights in the District.
"The city is changing; it's growing … So many new residents are outraged when they come to this area because they're so excited about the range of opportunity, jobs, growth, real estate, booming economy that this city has to offer, but that we don't have full equality like everybody else, so they are more willing to get behind this cause," Perry says.
To bring more attention to the District's lack of voting rights, D.C. Vote will host its first 3 Star Ball from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, May 22, on the rooftop of the National Association of Realtors building in Northwest D.C.
The evening will feature passed hors d'oeuvres and an open bar with wine, champagne and DC Brau -- a business that will be present and honored at the event for its commitment to D.C.'s representation.
"The business community is a growing constituency of support for … the voting rights movement."
DC Brau founders Brandon Skall and Jeff Hancock advertise their support for D.C. voting rights by including a fact about D.C.'s lack of representation on the company's beer cans, Perry says.
For more information, and for tickets, visit the DC Vote website.
© 2014 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.