WASHINGTON– Taxation without representation has yet another disadvantage: fewer tickets to the presidential inauguration on Jan. 21.
D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton received fewer than 200 tickets for her district, not nearly enough to fill the 4,000 requests she received. Norton said senators and congresspeople representing states received at least three times as many for constituents in their states. The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies is responsible for distributing tickets, but a spokesperson for the committee declined to comment on the number of tickets given out to members of Congress.
“We feel at a decided disadvantage. We are the hometown of the capital of the United States, and you only have one person to go to and that is me,” Norton said.
To make the process fair, she raffled off her allotted tickets Monday to those D.C. residents who wanted to attend the celebration.
Helping her with the process were two members of the D.C. National Guard, Capts. Yolanda Lee and Paul Martin. D.C. residents who had put in a request for a ticket had their names matched up with numbers and placed in a basket from which Lee and Martin chose the winners.
Four years ago, Lee was on the other side of the process.
“I did happen to win the lottery four years ago….I had to work, so I couldn’t go,” Lee said.
Lee said she was honored to be asked to participate in the raffle this year, but, as is the tradition on Capitol Hill, was immediately lobbied by friends to get them tickets.
“I told a girlfriend about it…she said, ‘Pull my name,’ I said, ‘I don’t think it works that way.’”
The winners have to go to Del. Norton’s office to sign for the tickets and promise not to sell them.
“Fortunately I represent more than 600,000 absolutely honest Americans, so I’m not even worried… that’s not my problem. My problem is that I need more tickets.”
She wrote to every member of the House and Senate asking for extra tickets after learning from Secret Service that this year’s attendance is anticipated to be only half that of four years ago.
Norton said she has a reserved spot for the swearing-in, sitting behind the president.
“Some have considered those prime seats. I’m not so sure. We’re looking at his back.”