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U.S. News
23: District of Columbia suffrage

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

23RD AMENDMENT (1961)

By 1960 the population of the District of Columbia, seat of the federal government, outnumbered 13 of the states. Still, its citizens were not permitted to send anyone to the Electoral College that chose the president and vice president. The Constitution was amended to correct what was seen as an injustice -- district residents already paid federal income taxes and were subject to the military draft. The bill did not grant the district statehood. Indeed, Washington, D.C., residents would, for another decade, still live under a mayor appointed by the federal government.

Since the days when they could not vote, District of Columbia residents who consider themselves second-class citizens have been at odds with lawmakers uneasy with giving the seat of the federal government its own state. Recently, city council changed the official motto on the license plate to make their objections clear.


Amendment XXIII:

Section 1. The District constituting the seat of government of the United States shall appoint in such manner as the Congress may direct:

A number of electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a state, but in no event more than the least populous state; they shall be in addition to those appointed by the states, but they shall be considered, for the purposes of the election of President and Vice President, to be electors appointed by a state; and they shall meet in the District and perform such duties as provided by the twelfth article of amendment.

Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.


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