The 23rd Amendment says (paraphrasing) that the District of Columbia has three electoral votes (exact wording will be at the end). Even if the rest of DC were granted statehood, the federal district would still have these votes.

My idea is to make the federal district not hold elections of its own, because it only holds things like the White House and the Capitol Building. (This is actually how the DC statehood bill is planned to be passed.) But, to satisfy the 23rd Amendment, the federal district would give its electoral votes to whoever wins the most votes in Douglass Commonwealth, or whatever it is called. The President already does not vote in DC (Trump voted in Florida, Obama voted in Chicago, etc.), so I don’t see how that would disenfranchise actual voters.

It requires a minimum of ⅔ votes in order to pass a constitutional amendment. In other words, ignoring the filibuster, could carbon-copying the electoral votes be done with a simple majority, like adding a state to the Union? (I understand this move could be seen as partisan because it effectively gives Democrats 3 more electoral votes. But repealing an amendment requires a supermajority of votes.

Exact wording of the 23rd amendment, since that might be relevant:

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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    I’m voting to close this question because it belongs on law SE in it’s current form May 25, 2021 at 13:58
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    @EkadhSingh I think it's politically relevant because it is about a passing constitutional amendment and statehood of Washington DC, those are definitely political matters (as well).
    – JJJ
    May 25, 2021 at 14:25
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    I agree with JJJ. It has clear political implications. May 25, 2021 at 14:29
  • What do you mean @CGCampbell? May 25, 2021 at 14:33
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    I'm not sure I understand the actual question. Residents of DC can already vote for President - they just can't vote for Congress. Is the question asking how to get rid of DC's electoral votes if the majority of it becomes a separate state (and thus gets electors in its own right)?
    – Bobson
    May 25, 2021 at 15:52

1 Answer 1


Yes, this should work – the question is whether opponents of DC statehood would accept it.

The relevant portion of the 23rd Amendment is the first phrase:

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

So, while the Federal District is entitled to 3 electors by the 23rd amendment in addition to the electoral votes given to the new state of Washington DC, and these votes can't be removed without a new constitutional amendment, it's up to Congress to decide how those electors are allocated. Right now, they're given to the winner of the DC popular vote, but Congress could change that method by a standard majority vote to something that made those 3 electors irrelevant.

For example, they could pass a bill that says that Federal electors are allocated to whichever candidate has the most electoral votes. This would ensure that these 3 extra electors would not influence the winner of the race, and so there wouldn't be any practical issue if the 23rd Amendment was not repealed.

Of course, the issue with the 23rd Amendment electors is a political issue, not a legal one – the reason it's a problem is that people feel it's a problem. So, while this solution would resolve the practical issues, the open question is if it would satisfy Senators who are concerned by this. That remains an open question, and I don't think we'll have an answer to it until a bill comes up to a vote in the Senate.

  • Allocating the federal electors to the candidate with the most electoral votes could change the outcome if three or more candidates get votes. Under the EC, candidates need an outright majority (with the federal electors that would be 271; without, 269). Thus 267 - 268 - 2 without federal electors is declared a tie, but 267 - 271 - 2 with federal electors is a victory for candidate 2.
    – A. R.
    May 2, 2023 at 18:51

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