The 23rd amendment gives residents of Washington DC the right to vote for representatives in the Electoral College. Remember that the Electoral College chooses our next president, based on the voting within their state.
Since DC is not a state, its residents were not allowed to vote for President as well as an elected voting representative to Congress.
Today, DC sends a delegate to Congress who may speak on behalf of those that live in DC, but that delegate may not vote.The 23rd amendment passed Congress in June of 1960 and reached the ¾ approval threshold less than a year later, on March 23, 1961.
What is the text of the 23rd Amendment?
The District constituting the seat of Government of the United States shall appoint in such manner as the Congress may direct:
(Washington DC may appoint…)
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
(DC may have as many electors in the Electoral College as if it were a state)
…but in no event more than the least populous State
(the smallest state has three electoral votes and the 23rd amendment limits DC from having more votes than any other state, regardless of the DC population)
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;
(the status and position of these electors is equivalent to other electors)
and they shall meet in the District and perform such duties as provided by the twelfth article of amendment.
(the 12th amendment provides for the creation of the Electoral College and those electors selected for DC under the 23rd amendment will be expected to carry out those same responsibilities)
Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
(Congress has the responsibility to ensure that the provisions of the 23rd amendment are enforced and DC has its electoral votes applied to subsequence presidential elections)
Will the 23rd amendment last into the future?
In recent years people in Washington DC have pushed the government for more rights and representation in Congress. Remember that the “delegate” from DC may speak but may not vote. Proposed amendments to the constitution would end the 23rd amendment in favor of complete voting rights. This amendment was proposed in the 1970s but was never successful and expired seven years after it was proposed by Congress. The 23rd amendment may end in the event that DC residents get their voting rights, but that may be some time from now.