Election of U.S. Representatives

An article explaining the election process for the U.S. House of Representatives.
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When the first Congress met in 1789, there were 59representatives in the House of Representatives. As the number of states increased and asthe population grew, the number of representatives increased significantly. A law passedin 1911 fixed the size of the House of Representatives at 435 members. Members of theHouse are up for reelection every two years. The number of persons representing each statedepends upon its population as reported in the nation's decennial census counts. Eachstate is divided into congressional districts accordingly. There is a representative forevery congressional district and every state has at least one congressional district.

In order to be elected to the House of Representatives one must be at least 25 yearsold by the time one takes the oath of office, a citizen of the U.S. for at least sevenyears, and a resident of the state from which one is elected. These qualifications wereestablished in Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution.

Most states have primary elections to decide which candidates will be on the Novembergeneral election ballot. Some states parties hold conventions in conjunction with theprimary. If a candidate is unopposed, there may not be a primary election. Those whorepresent a major political party are automatically placed on a state's primary ballot.Minor party candidates are chosen by their party's rules while independent candidatesnominate themselves. Independent candidates and those representing minor parties must meetvarious state requirements to be placed on the general election ballot. An example of thiswould be to submit a petition with a certain number of registered voters.

Senate and Representative elections differ in who votes for the candidates. Alleligible voters within a state may vote for Senator. A Representative is elected by onlythose eligible voters residing in the congressional district that the candidate willrepresent. Election winners are decided by the plurality rule. That is, the person whoreceives the highest number of votes wins. This may not necessarily be a majority of thevotes.

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