March 29: The 23rd Amendment
In 1961, the 23rd Amendmentgranted Electoral College voting rights to citizens of Washington, D.C. It says, “The District constituting the seat of Government of the United States shall appoint in such manner as 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.” Before this Amendment, D.C. residents could only vote for President and Vice President if they were officially registered to vote in a different state. Still, the 23rd Amendment did not grant Washington, D.C. statehood or assign it representation in Congress. D.C. is treated as a state in terms of taxation, service in the armed forces, diversity jurisdiction, and the regulation of commerce. The debate continued: in 1978, Congress passed the “District of Columbia Voting Rights Amendment,” which would have granted D.C. seats in the House of Representatives and the Senate. This Amendment was only ratified by 16 states by the time of its self-imposed deadline in 1985, leaving the District’s residents well short of the constitutionally mandated three-fourths.