VERIFY: The OSCE reported that residents of the District of Columbia are ineligible to vote for President

A European Union “anti-disinformation” newsletter falsely claimed the post-election report produced by the OSCE into the U.S. general election said that residents of the District of Columbia are ineligible to vote for President of the United States. The OSCE report made no such claim, and it is not true in any case. Resident citizens of the District of Columbia have been entitled for vote for presidential electors since the 1964 election.

Background: On 3 November 2020, the United States held an election for a number of local, state, and federal offices including that of President of the United States. The Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), of which the United States is a member, sent a small elections observation mission to the U.S. as it has regularly done in the past. Shortly after the election, the mission issued a preliminary report.

The Claim: EUvsDisinfo is part of the European Union’s official, state media. It is an email newsletter produced by the East Stratcom Task Force intended to counter Russia-originating “disinformation.” In its 12 November 2020 issue it reported the following, in regard to the OSCE’s preliminary post-election report:


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The report does note various issues with the electoral process, such as the “animosity and heated rhetoric” between the two main candidates, possible disenfranchisement of voters without a photo ID, and the inability of those in the District of Columbia or US territories to vote for president.

INVESTIGATION: Nowhere in the OSCE’s 24-page report does it make the claim that residents in the District of Columbia were unable to “vote for president,” as EUvsDisinfo reported it did. In fact, the OSCE report says the opposite. On page eight it notes that “more than half a million citizens residing in the District of Columbia have the right to vote in presidential elections.”

Having established that EUvsDisinfo falsely cited the OSCE preliminary post-election report to support its claim, we next turn our attention to whether the claim itself is true. Can residents of the District of Columbia “vote for president?”

Yes. Since 1961, eligible voters in the District of Columbia have been able to vote for candidate-pledged electors in U.S. presidential elections. The Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics, a nonprofit, nonpartisan program of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, clarifies this point.

Passed by Congress on June 17, 1960, and ratified by the states on March 29, 1961, Amendment XXIII treats the District of Columbia as if it were a state for purposes of the Electoral College, thereby giving residents of the District the right to have their votes counted in presidential elections.

Candidates for President of the United States are listed on the official website of the District of Columbia Board of Elections as ballot-qualified in the 2020 election. And, the website of the Archivist of the United States hosts a digital scan of the Certificate of Ascertainment from the 2016 U.S. presidential elections showing that year’s Democratic Party presidential candidate Hillary Clinton as having received 282,830 votes from D.C. residents.

RATING: We rate the claim by EUvsDisinfo, that the OSCE post-election report said that D.C. residents are ineligible to vote in U.S. presidential elections as FALSE. The OSCE report made no such assertion.

We also rate the underlying claim behind the fictitious citation, that D.C. residents are ineligible to vote in U.S. presidential elections, as also FALSE.

Status: JournaFact contacted EUvsDisinfo, which chose not to publish a correction.


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