POLYAS Election Glossary

We provide explanations and background information on elections, voting rights and digital democracy

House of Representatives

The House of Representatives is the lower house within the US Congress and has the following characteristics:

  • 435 voting members representing districts
  • One member per congressional district
  • Members serve two year legislative terms
  • Elections occur every even year
  • Members elected by a plurality in most states (also known as first past the post)
  • Louisiana, Washington and California employ a two-round runoff voting system
  • The presiding officer is the Speaker of the House - currently Republican Paul Ryan
  • Republicans currently control the house with a majority of 238 members

The primary role of the House of Representatives is to pass legislation alongside the Senate. Moreover, the House has the power to initiate all revenue bills as well as bills of impeachment of federal officers. The House also has the power to elect the President of the United States in the event that no candidate receives an electoral college majority.

See also: US Congress, Republican Party, First Past the Post, US Senate

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