- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 11, 2008

D.C. residents trying to see President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration are worried that they will be left without tickets because the distribution system favors states with full voting rights.

For Norma Jones, a health administrator who has lived in the District for more than 30 years, this will be the first time she has tried to get a ticket to a presidential inauguration.

When she heard that tickets will be distributed only through congressional offices and the new Obama administration, she became worried that residents of the host city, herself included, would get boxed out because they have only a nonvoting representative in Congress.

States with a smaller population than the District, including Wyoming, would conceivably get three times as many tickets.

“It’s taxation without representation,” she said Monday, repeating a slogan revived by the District’s status lacking full voting rights in Congress.

Ms. Jones became concerned when she began calling congressional offices seeking a ticket. Members of Congress purportedly have had their phones and Web sites crash as a result of so many requests.

U.S. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat and the District’s nonvoting member of Congress, said it’s going to be tough for everyone looking for tickets for the Jan. 20 swearing-in ceremony on Capitol Hill.

“You’re going to have an unprecedented situation up here, you’re going to have a lot of people with enthusiasm up here,” she said.

The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, which is printing 240,000 tickets, will distribute them shortly before Inauguration Day.

The president-elect and vice president-elect get the largest share of tickets, followed by senators, then representatives, said Carole Florman, an inaugural committee spokeswoman. The number of tickets each office will get has not been worked out yet, she said.

Miss Florman said that the committee had no problem getting enough tickets for D.C. residents at the past two presidential inaugurations but that something will likely be worked out to get extra tickets this time.

People already have turned to ticket scalpers and middlemen. But inauguration committee staffers have warned that nobody has tickets yet because they have not been printed and that it is impossible for any site or ticket broker to have an inaugural ticket.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat and chairwoman of the inauguration committee, has begun writing letters to sites selling inaugural tickets asking them to stop. She also is drafting legislation that would make it illegal to sell inauguration tickets.

The office of Sen. Jim Webb, Virginia Democrat, has been flooded with more than 15,000 requests for tickets. His office expects to receive about 500 tickets, spokeswoman Jessica Webb said.

Mrs. Norton’s office estimates having received more than 3,000 phone calls and e-mails.

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