Does Washington DC Have Any Electoral Votes?

Learn about how Washington DC is granted three electoral votes due to the Twenty-Third Amendment and how efforts to ensure full political representation have gained momentum.

Does Washington DC Have Any Electoral Votes?

Residents of Washington DC are not represented in the Senate, but they are granted three electoral votes due to the Twenty-Third Amendment, adopted in 1961. This amendment states that the District cannot have more electoral votes than the state with the lowest number of electors. Since then, it has participated in 15 presidential elections, always voting overwhelmingly for the Democratic candidate. Despite this, efforts to ensure full political representation of the District of Columbia have gained momentum, but obstacles remain. The Electoral College is responsible for deciding who will be elected President and Vice President of the United States. Each state has as many electors as there are members of Congress (House and Senate), including Washington, DC.

Political parties in each state select their own list of potential voters, and the process for electing a voter, how and when it varies by state. After you cast your vote for president, your vote is sent to a state recount. In 48 states and in Washington, DC, Maine and Nebraska assign their electors using a proportional system. In order to win the presidential election, a candidate must receive at least 270 electoral votes (more than half of all voters). While the Constitution does not require voters to vote for the candidate chosen by the popular vote in their state, some states do.

If someone votes for someone else, they can be fined, disqualified and replaced by a substitute voter, or even prosecuted by their state. If no candidate receives a majority of the electoral votes, the decision goes to the House of Representatives. This happened after the presidential elections of 1800 and 1824 when Thomas Jefferson and John Quincy Adams were elected respectively. To change this process, a constitutional amendment would be necessary. Historians have documented how the debate over the disenfranchisement of Washington residents has always been linked to the racial demography of the area and to black political power. While local government oversees the Washington Metropolitan Police Department, the Washington National Guard reports to the president.

The unsuccessful statehood amendment effort of 1979 reflected Congress' attempt to grant Washington residents certain attributes of statehood without actually making DC a state. The exclusion of Washington residents from a voice in Congress contributes to the underrepresentation of voters of color in American politics. While it may be appropriate for Congress to repeal the 23rd Amendment once most of DC becomes a state, its existence does not preclude admitting DC as a new state.

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