WASHINGTON -- The national capital is expected to show its enthusiasm for the right to vote for president today with perhaps the greatest percentage turnout of registered voters in the country.
District election officials are looking for the nation's neophyte voters to line up in droves during the 12-hour balloting period.
Dan Noll, executive secretary of the local election board, said he would be "surprised" if the turnout was less than 90 per cent of the some 220,000 registered voters.
The basis for the enthusiasm of this politically minded community along the historic Potomac River is the 23rd Amendment to the Constitution, finally ratified in the spring of 1961.
The amendment permitted residents of Washington to cast ballots in presidential elections.
Ever since the district was created back in the late 1700's, residents have been pretty much voteless. In its formative years, residents selected their mayor and council but were completely stripped of voting rights in 1878 when Congress took control of district government affairs.
Democrats, who make up an estimated 50 per cent of the registered voters, have no doubt that the capital's three electoral votes will go to the Johnson-Humphrey ticket.
But the Republicans, led by Carl Shipley, were not prone to give up that easily. Shipley, predicting a "large stay-at-home Democratic vote among Negroes," gave the G.O.P. a 50-50 chance. He anticipated "a tremendous cross-over" for Senator Barry M. Goldwater, largely over the civil rights issue.
Noll's records indicate Republicans make up about 20 per cent of the registered votes, independents about 30.
The total registration represents less than half the estimated number of Washington residents of voting age.
But Noll said that many who did not register were government works who maintain a voting residence in their home state. They will vote there personally or by absentee ballot.