PRESS RELEASE from Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

November 7, 2008

Norton Says New Game Plan Needed as Phones Flood With Inauguration Calls

Washington, D.C. - The Office of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) is no longer able to take names for tickets to inauguration events because it has become clear that there will be very few tickets, and not nearly enough to accommodate the inundation of calls and emails the Norton office is receiving.  After taking thousands of names, e-mail addresses, and home addresses for two days, a Norton spokesperson said that out of fairness to her constituents, the Congresswoman felt she had to be candid with them rather than leave the impression that there is a waiting list that could enable her to get the tickets residents desire.  Only 240,000 tickets to the inauguration will be printed.  Relatively few will be available to members of Congress.  The Norton office has received no information on the tickets, but it is already clear that she will not receive nearly enough to accommodate the thousands of residents requesting them.  Already, fraudulent websites and individuals are "selling" free inaugural tickets.

            The Congresswoman is so concerned that she is in discussions with the president-elect's office about how to get more access to inaugural events for residents and how to keep millions of people from facing disappointment when they come to D.C. and cannot get anywhere near the National Mall or the parade.  Norton, who is a member of the Homeland Security Committee, believes that this inauguration could be flooded with individuals who may be determined to participate, tickets or not.  She will be meeting with security officials next week.

           "I share the excitement and enthusiasm of my constituents, but I am concerned that even the few who obtain tickets will not be able to get through the crowds at the Mall," Norton said.  "The only people sure to get a view of the parade and the swearing-in are the people who watch it on television in the comfort of their homes."

            The day after the election, Congresswoman Norton set up a special phone line and e-mail account to respond to the hundreds of requests that began pouring in.  After staff took the names of more than 3,000 residents, and continuing phone calls and emails tied up phone lines and email, the office had to cease taking information.  Urgent, non-inauguration-related calls could not get through, and taking names raised hopes for tickets that likely will not be available.   The congresswoman said she will keep trying, but "an entirely new game plan will be needed to cope with an inauguration like none the country has ever seen," Norton said.