23rd Amendment to the Constitution

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On March 29, 1961, the U.S. Congress passed the 23rd Amendment to the Constitution. The amendment gives District of Columbia residents the ability to vote for the country’s president and vice president. Before this, those who are in the District of Columbia were not able to vote because they did not reside in a state.

Moreover, presidential electors are determined depending on the number of senators and representatives that a state has. This policy sets the number of qualified electors for District of Columbia that is equivalent to that of the state with the least population.


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.

Summary of the Amendment

According to the Section 1 of the article, the District that constitutes the United States seat of government will follow certain policies in appointing electors as Congress directs. For instance, the number of qualified voting members of president and vice president equals to the entire number of Congress representatives and senators to which the District of Columbia will be entitled.

However, the number should not exceed that of the country’s least populated state. The electors will be taken into consideration for the purposes of the election of U.S. president and vice president. They are expected to perform duties as stipulated by the 12th article of this amendment. Furthermore, the U.S. Congress will have the authority to enforce the details of this article with appropriate legislation.

Details about the 23rd Amendment

23rd_AmendmentIt was on June 17, 1960 when the U.S. Congress proposed the Amendment XXIII to the Constitution. This amendment permitted District of Columbia citizens to vote for their preferred candidate for president and vice president of the country. On March 29, 1961, the states ratified the amendment, and it took effect during the 1964 presidential election.

Before the ratification of the amendment, Washington D.C residents were not allowed to vote for their choice of president and vice president because the District was not considered as a state. Instead, the District was only designated as the capital of the U.S. federal government. Furthermore, these residents were forbidden to send their senators and voting representatives to Congress.

Although the District was given the right to vote, the amendment stated certain restrictions and regulations when it comes to the number of voting members of the country’s least populous state regardless of its population. In 2011, Wyoming was noted as the state with the smallest population, and it had three electors. Even with the absence of this clause, though, the present population of the District would only entitle it to have three electors. With the passing of the Twenty-third Amendment, the electoral votes of the District have supported the Democratic Party candidates in almost every presidential election.

About the District of Columbia

The District of Columbia has a unique position in terms of the United States political geography. This nation capital is not considered as a state, yet it is a district intended as the seat of the U.S. federal government. Because it is not a state, the residents are not permitted to vote. Since 1790, Washington D.C. has remained as the seat of the government, and it was never a city or a state. Quite understandably, the citizens of D.C. eventually campaigned for their voting rights.

In 1960, Congress passed and proposed the 23rd amendment to the country’s Constitution. While the amendment did not necessarily give District of Columbia residents full and comprehensive voting rights, it entitled them to vote for their preferred president and vice president of the country. In the United States, the state electors determine the presidential election, and they are the ones who cast in their electoral votes based on the votes of the state’s residents.

Impact of the Amendment

Ever since the passing and ratification of the amendment, there is still an existing issue in terms of the voting rights of all the District of Columbia residents. This concern has also remained as a political issue among all citizens of the District. In 1978, the U.S. Congress passed the Voting Rights Amendment for the District of Columbia. This aimed to supersede the Twenty-third Amendment, and it intended to give all the residents their full voting rights. However, the amendment failed to be passed by several states in the country, which is required before it may become an amendment to the United States Constitution.

2 responses to “23rd Amendment to the Constitution”

  1. Germem Bubbason says:

    In the impact section, this amendment became a law in 1961, thus meaning congress couldn’t pass it in 1978

    • Peter Capaldi says:

      Actually, it says the VOTING RIGHTS Amendment was passed in 1978, not the Twenty-third Amendment. They are two different things.

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