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Understanding the 23rd Amendment

Understanding the 23rd Amendment

The 23rd Amendment of the United States Constitution would finally provide citizens of the District of Columbia the right to vote for the President and Vice President offices. Prior to the 23rd Amendment, citizens of Washington, D.C. were not granted the right to vote on the basis that the Capitol is not considered a State of the United States. Under Article I of the United States Constitution, power was granted to Congress to accept land from the states for the purpose of creating the seat of Government. The District of Columbia was founded in accordance with the provision, as the states of Maryland and Virginia would provide for such land.

Washington, D.C. would, therefore, be controlled by Congress. The 23rd Amendment was proposed by Congress on June 17th, 1960, and finally ratified by the necessary number of states on March 29th, 1961. Washington D.C. citizens would ultimately be able to exercise their new right to vote in a Presidential election in 1964. 

Under the provisions included in the 23rd Amendment, the District of Columbia would be restricted to having a number of electors that would reflect the number of electors in the least populated State of the United States. The electors would be appointed by the State and would be considered as electors appointed by a State. The electors would be bound to observe and follow the provisions contained within the Twelfth Amendment.

Currently, the State with the least population numbers is Wyoming. Even without the clause entitling Washington D.C. the number of electors of the least populated state, the number of electors would still be three because of D.C.'s currently population. Even though the District of Columbia did not obtain the right to vote in Presidential Elections until 1961, they were provided the right to vote for a mayor and city council in the 1820s. All of the officials were directly appointed by the President of the United States until 1874, when Congress assumed control over the City's government, as it had done ever since the District's creation for the exception of the years 1871 until 1874.

The 23rd Amendment provides citizens of D.C. the right to vote for a President and Vice President, but currently still do not have the right to vote for members of the House of Representatives or Senate to Congress. This issue has been a concern and Amendments regarding the right to vote for members of Congress has been introduced, but was not able to obtain the necessary ratification of the required states. However, Congress did allow for a member of House of Representatives from the District of Columbia to be included, but does not have the power of voting. This representative is elected by the residents of Washington, D.C.