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Election of Representatives

An explanation of the election process for the House of Representatives appropriate for elementary-aged students.
Grades:
3 |
4 |
5
The House ofRepresentatives has a fixed number of 435 members.  Its members serve for two yearsand then are up for reelection.  In order to be elected to the House ofRepresentatives, there are some requirements a candidate must meet.  Thesequalifications are established in Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution.  Acandidate must be:
  • At least 25 years old (by the time s/he takes theoath of office).
  • A citizen of the U.S. for at least 7 years.
  • A resident of the state from which they are elected.

Since representation in the House is based on astate's population, every 10 years the U.S. Bureau of the Census counts how many peoplelive in each state of the United States.  Each state is broken down into congressional districts andthere is one representative for each district.  Every state has at least onecongressional district.  With each new census, the number ofdistricts (and representatives) in each state is then adjusted.

For example, the 1990 Census increased the number ofCalifornia representatives from 45 to 52.

Many states hold elections to decide whichcandidates will be on the ballot in the November general election.  There can bethree types of candidates on a ballot:

  • Major political party candidates are automaticallyplaced on their state's primary ballot.
  • Minor party candidates are chosen by their party's uniqueguidelines.
  • Independent candidates nominate themselves.

If a candidate is not opposed then there is no needfor a primary and his/her name is automatically placed on the November ballot.  Thecandidate who receives the most votes wins the election.

Senate and Representative elections differ in whovotes for the candidates.  While all voters in a state may vote in a senatorialelection, only those in a specific congressional district may vote for a representativefor that district.

Source: Ben's Guide to U.S. Government for Kids