History of Voting in DC

Citizens of the District of Columbia gained the right to vote in presidential elections with the passage of the 23rd Amendment to the Constitution in 1961 making the 1964 presidential election the first time that DC residents voted for President of the United States. Before that (since 1936), DC residents voted only for party officials and delegates to the Democratic and Republican national conventions.

Board of Education

In 1968, residents were granted the right to vote for an elected Board of Education. Under the law creating the school board, one member would be elected from each of the eight wards, and three would be elected at-large. All 11 members serve four-year terms.

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Delegate to the House of Representatives

In 1970, the "District of Columbia Election Act" was amended by Congress to allow DC residents to elect a Delegate to the House of Representatives. The first primary for this office was held in January 1971, with the general election held in March. The District's Delegate to the House does not have a vote on the House floor, but may vote in Committee.

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Mayor and District Council

The Home Rule Charter was approved in late 1973, allowing DC residents to elect a Mayor and 13member District Council. Under the Charter, one councilmember is elected from each of the eight wards, while the Chairman and four remaining members are elected at-large. Both the Mayor and the members of the DC Council hold four year terms. The first Home Rule elections were held in 1974.

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Advisory Neighborhood Commissions

The first Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) elections were held in February 1976 Under the law, each ANC Single Member District (SMD) is comprised of approximately 2,000 residents. Commissioners serve two-year terms and receive no salary. There are 296 Single Member Districts in the District of Columbia. They are grouped into 37 Commissions.

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Initiative, Referendum, and Recall

The Initiative, Referendum, and Recall Procedures Act of 1978 gave voters the right to file a measure for consideration on the ballot. A detailed explanation of the Initiative, Referendum, and Recall process is included.

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United States Senator and Representative

US Senator and US Representative are local offices, created through an Initiative Measure. The first elections for these offices were held in 1990.

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DC Board of Elections
441 4th Street, NW, Suite 250 North
Washington, DC 20001
Tel: (202) 727-2525 | TTY: (202) 639-8916 | Tollfree: 1-866-DC-VOTES
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  • General Election: 11/4/2014
  • Primary Election: 4/1/2014

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