Fight continues for US territories' full participation in democratic process

U.S. territories need real representation in the nation’s capital and must be allowed to vote for president, former congressman Robert Underwood said.

“If they are going to be kept as territories until a future and final political status is determined, then they should be given the right to grant their consent to this body,” said Underwood, former president of the University of Guam.

Underwood, who represented Guam in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993 to 2003, is seeking to return to Congress. He is vying for the Democratic Party’s nomination in the Aug. 29 primary, challenging the incumbent Guam delegate, Michael San Nicolas. Running unopposed in the Republican Party’s camp is Sen. Wil Castro.

Underwood cited the challenges of representing a territory in the nation’s capital, where territorial delegates have no voting power, thus do not get to fully participate in the proceedings of the House of Representatives.

“The best way to explain the nature of American citizenship in the territories was to explain to other Americans that territorial citizens could not vote for president,” Underwood stated in a written testimony submitted to the House Administration Committee.