POLYAS Election Glossary

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

US Senate

The US Senate is the upper house within the US Congress and possesses the following characteristics:

  • 100 senators representing states
  • Two senators per state. Senators serve six year, staggered legislative terms.
  • Roughly one third of Senate positions are re-elected every two years.
  • Elections occur every even year
  • Senators are elected by a plurality in each state (also known as first-past-the-post)
  • The President of the Senate is the Vice President of the United States - currently Mike Pence
  • Republicans currently control the Senate with a majority of 52 Senators.

The main role of the US Senate is to pass legislation along with the House of Representatives. However, it also possess the following additional powers which the lower house does not:

  • Confirmation of cabinet secretaries, federal judges Supreme Court justices, ambassadors and other executive officials
  • Ratification of treaties
  • Elects the Vice President in the case that no candidate receives a majority in the electoral college.
See also: Congress, House of Representatives, Legislature, Legislative Term

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