Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Veto of Bill Regulating the Election of Delegates From the District of Columbia to National Political Conventions.

August 20, 1954

To the United States Senate:

I return herewith without my approval S. 1611, an enactment entitled "An Act to regulate the election of delegates representing the District of Columbia to national political conventions, and for other purposes."

This enactment regulates the election of national committeemen and committeewomen and delegates and alternates from the District of Columbia to all conventions of political parties nominating candidates for the Presidency and Vice Presidency of the United States.

The enactment further provides for a Board of Elections, composed of three members appointed by the Commissioners of the District of Columbia. The Board would maintain a permanent registry of electors, conduct the elections, certify nominees and the results of elections, and perform other functions incident to the conduct of such elections.

Section 9 of the enrolled bill exempts the qualified electors of the District of Columbia from the Hatch Act.

I cannot approve the provisions of the enrolled bill which would enable a very limited number of Federal employees to engage in partisan political activities, a privilege denied to all other Federal employees by the Hatch Act. The bill would amend this act by permitting Federal employees living in the District of Columbia to actively participate in the nomination and election of delegates and alternates representing the District at national political conventions and in the selection of members of the national committees of political parties. It is estimated that of the approximately 2,180,000 Federal employees in the United States, only 160,200 or 7 percent work in the District of Columbia. It is impossible to determine how many of the 160,200 live in the District of Columbia and would be privileged to actively participate in elections of party national committeemen, but the number would be extremely small compared to the total number of Federal employees. Thus a tiny percentage of Federal employees would be permitted to be candidates for, and to serve in, the political party offices of national committeemen. They also would be allowed to engage in such partisan political activities as serving on campaign committees, making public addresses in behalf of candidates, soliciting funds, and a variety of other duties incident to political campaigns. If additional political privileges are to be extended to Federal employees it should be on a nation-wide basis. No apparent reason exists for singling out a limited number of Federal employees living in the District of Columbia and permitting them to participate in partisan political activities while all other Federal employees throughout the country are denied this privilege under the Hatch Act.

I take this action with considerable regret. Were it not for this wholly unacceptable exemption from the Hatch Act, this legislation would represent a constructive step toward obtaining suffrage in the District of Columbia. Fortunately, the first election under procedures authorized by this bill would not take place until April 1956. Therefore, there is still ample time for the 84th Congress to consider this matter again. I recommend such action, and I shall be glad to approve a bill from which the defects of the present measure are removed.

DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Veto of Bill Regulating the Election of Delegates From the District of Columbia to National Political Conventions. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232593

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