Technically, 23rd amendment grants nothing for DC electors

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14 Jan 2015, 4:52 am

Here is the text:

Quote:
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.


Note how nothing in the amendment says that the residents of DC get to vote. All it says is that Congress may choose the manner in which the DC electors are appointed+. This clause is parallel to the 2nd clause of Article II Section 1*, which gives legislatures the power to decide the manner in which their states' electors are appointed. Now, generally, all the state legislatures today award their electors to the candidate receiving the most votes, but in the past it was different. For example, prior to the Civil War, South Carolina's legislature would always appoint its state's electors directly, without any vote from the state's residents. Technically, any state could go back to doing the exact same thing.

And technically, Congress could do the exact same thing itself: Appoint DC's electors itself without any vote from DC's residents.

And the reason for both is that for each state the legislature chooses the manner of appointing its state's electors and that Congress chooses the manner of appointing DC's electors.

+ "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..."

* "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors,..."

(Note how parallel the wording is for these 2 last quotes. For the 23rd amendment, DC fills in for the states, and Congress fills in for the state legislatures.)


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