Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. The signing of the Residence Act on July 16, 1790, approved the creation of a capital district located along the Potomac River on the country's East Coast. As permitted by the U.S. Constitution, the District is under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Congress and is therefore not a part of any U.S. state.
The states of Maryland and Virginia each donated land to form the federal district, which included the preexisting settlements of Georgetown and Alexandria. Named in honor of George Washington, the City of Washington was founded in 1791 to serve as the new national capital. Congress returned the land originally ceded by Virginia in 1846 and created a single municipal government for the remaining portion of the District in 1871.
A presidential election is the election of any head of state whose official title is President.
The issue of voting rights in the United States has been contentious throughout the country's history. Eligibility to vote in the U.S. is determined by both federal and state law. Currently, only citizens can vote in U.S. federal elections. Who is (or who can become) a citizen is governed on a national basis by federal law. In the absence of a federal law or constitutional amendment, each state is given considerable discretion to establish qualifications for suffrage and candidacy within its own jurisdiction.
When the country was founded, in most states, only white men with real property (land) or sufficient wealth for taxation were permitted to vote. Freed slaves could vote in four states. Unpropertied white men, women, and all other people of color were denied the franchise. At the time of the American Civil War, most white men were allowed to vote, whether or not they owned property. Literacy tests, poll taxes, and even religious tests were used in various places, and most white women, people of color, and Native Americans still could not vote.
The election of the President and the Vice President of the United States is an indirect vote in which citizens cast ballots for a slate of members of the U.S. Electoral College; these electors in turn directly elect the President and Vice President. Presidential elections occur quadrennially (the count beginning with the year 1792) on Election Day, the Tuesday between November 2 and 8, coinciding with the general elections of various other federal, states and local races. The most recent was the 2012 election, held on November 6. The next election will be the 2016 election, which will be held on November 8, 2016.