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Election of Representatives

The House of Representatives has a fixed number of 435 members. Its members serve for two years and then are up for reelection. In order to be elected to the House of Representatives, there are some requirements a candidate must meet. These qualifications are established in Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution. A candidate must be:

  • At least 25 years old (by the time s/he takes the oath 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 a state's population, every 10 years the U.S. Bureau of the Census counts how many people live in each state of the United States. Each state is broken down into congressional districts and there is one representative for each district. Every state has at least one congressional district. With each new census, the number of districts (and representatives) in each state is then adjusted.

For example, the 2000 Census increased the number of Pennsylvania representatives from 17 to 19.

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

  • Major political party candidates are automatically placed on their state's primary ballot.
  • Minor party candidates are chosen by their party's unique guidelines.
  • Independent candidates nominate themselves.

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

Senate and Representative elections differ in who votes for the candidates. While all voters in a state may vote in a senatorial election, only those in a specific congressional district may vote for a representative for that district.

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