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The House of Representatives passed H.R.51, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act. Under the current text, it would admit Washington, DC as a state, excluding a small area around the federal buildings known as the "Capital", which would continue to serve as the seat of the US government. Section 111(b) of the bill says:

(b) Exclusion of portion remaining as seat of Government of United States.—The territory of the State shall not include the area described in section 112, which shall be known as the “Capital” and shall serve as the seat of the Government of the United States, as provided in clause 17 of section 8 of article I of the Constitution of the United States.

But under the 23rd Amendment to the US Constitution, the district constituting the seat of the US government gets to appoint electors (in a manner that Congress decides) to the Electoral College that elects the President and Vice President. (The number of electors that the district gets is the number of Senators and Representatives it would have if it were a state, but no more than the number of electors of the least populous state, so effectively the number will always be 3 electors, since each state has 2 senators and at least 1 representative, and there are some states with only 1 representative.)

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.

Assuming that H.R.51 passes as currently written (I know that there are severe doubts it can pass the Senate, but let's assume it does), and assuming that no Constitutional amendment is enacted, would it cause the small "Capital" area, which will have few residents, to have 3 electors in the Electoral College? It seems this will cause its residents to have a disproportionate influence on the electoral vote for President.

If so, could Congress somehow fix this without amending the Constitution (for example, by repealing the law governing how electors are selected for the district, thereby providing no mechanism of selecting electors for the district)?

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They appear to specifically address this in this section:

SEC. 223. REPEAL OF LAW PROVIDING FOR PARTICIPATION OF SEAT OF GOVERNMENT IN ELECTION OF PRESIDENT AND VICE-PRESIDENT.

What this does is remove the District of Columbia from the definition of a "state" as it applies in the USC chapter dealing with Presidential elections. Since the 23rd Amendment says that the Capital district "shall appoint" electors it would seem that Congress would need to repeal the 23rd Amendment to lawfully stop the Capital district from appointing electors. This is probably why they are also proposing repealing the 23rd Amendment:

SEC. 224. EXPEDITED PROCEDURES FOR CONSIDERATION OF CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT REPEALING 23RD AMENDMENT.

Section 221 also aids in this by giving citizens in the Capital region the opportunity to vote in other jurisdictions (the details are as the title describes):

SEC. 221. PERMITTING INDIVIDUALS RESIDING IN CAPITAL TO VOTE IN FEDERAL ELECTIONS IN STATE OF MOST RECENT DOMICILE.

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  • But I believe what Congress "directs" for choosing the district's electors is currently in DC Code 1–1001.01. Without repealing that, I don't think Congress can simply exclude the district's electors from the Electoral College. – user102008 Apr 23 at 0:14
  • @user102008 Updated answer based on re-reading the Amendment. "Shall appoint" doesn't leave the option for not appointing them. – IllusiveBrian Apr 23 at 1:35
  • Are you suggesting that, since the Constitution says states "shall appoint" electors too, it is unconstitutional for a state to fail to appoint its full number of electors? And if so, what would the remedy be? (Can the courts force the state to adopt a previous method of choosing electors?) – user102008 Apr 23 at 4:52
  • @user102008 "shall" would seem to mean that a state has to appoint electors, but as a practical matter the courts probably would only force them to have a law that specifies how they do it, so there are some creative solutions like appointing electors that vote for George Washington. – IllusiveBrian Apr 23 at 10:59
  • The intention is that there aren't supposed to be any residents in the "new" DC, so I suppose Congress could always reject any electoral ballots for DC it receives. – pboss3010 Apr 23 at 11:43

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