AS THE D.C. Voting Rights Amendment reaches age 3, it appears to be drawing its last breath. In the past year only one state approved the amendment -- fewer than the three that approved it in its second year, which in turn was fewer than the six the year before.

The trend is pretty clear. Even the one state that ratified the amendment in the last year, Oregon, initially voted it down. In Maine and California the amendment failed completely this year. In order for the amendment to become part of the Constitution by getting the approval of the necessary 38 states, it will have to reverse this pattern by gaining ratification in an average of seven states a year for the remaing four years of its life. We draw these dismal facts to your attention to illustrate the point that the people of this city -- if they truly want two senators and a representative -- are going to have to get behind the amendment immediately with money, and work as never before.

Over the past year some major flaws in the campaign have been mended, including divisions among leading supporters of the amendment. Now Del. Walter Fauntroy, Mayor Marion Barry and the Voting Rights Service Corp. have joined with Joseph Rauh (who writes on the opposite page today) and Dick Clark, chairman of the National Coalition for Sel-Determination for the District, to try to see that the amendment gets passed.

With the leadership of the drive solidified, the campaign also has increased its activities around the country, getting the message to legislators and local groups in several states that there are still people in the United States who do not have representation in the national government. This sort of groundwork in preparation for votes in state legislatures was not being done before. Now that it has been done, Mr. Clark says there are five states with nearly enough legislators convinced that they should support the amendment to pass it when the next vote is taken.

It is important that District residents not give up hope now. To do so while time remains to get the amendment approved would be to tell the rest of the country that the District does not really want voting rights in Congress. Voting rights for the District have, in fact, been more enthusiastically supported in some of the states considering the amendment than they have here. We can do better.