Article I Section 2

Election and Qualification of Members of the House

The House of Representatives shall be composed of members chosen every second year by the people of the several states, and the electors in each state shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the state legislature.

No person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the age of twenty five years, and been seven years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that state in which he shall be chosen.

Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states which may be included within this union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of ten years, in such manner as they shall by law direct. The number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty thousand, but each state shall have at least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the state of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.

When vacancies happen in the Representation from any state, the executive authority thereof shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies.

The House of Representatives shall choose their speaker and other officers; and shall have the sole power of impeachment

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Members of the House Chosen by the People

Resolution 4 of the Virginia plan (written by James Madison) stated that “members of the first branch of the National Legislature ought to be elected by the people of the several States.” The idea of one federal office being chosen directly by the people was a significant departure from the concept of federalism as known under the Articles of Confederation. It was not however a plan to convert the Federation to a democracy. Neither was it designed to empower a “consolidated” government as those opposed to the new Constitution feared. It was a methodology to create a system of checks and balances in order to keep the national level of government under control so that freedom could flourish. On May 31, at the beginning of the Constitutional Convention, James Madison explains that it was necessary for the establishment of a free government to have part of one branch (ONLY ONE house) of the national legislature selected by the people. While other ideas came and went, this concept remained a pillar of the foundation of the original Constitution.

Qualification of Those Who Elect Representatives

Most people read the first paragraph of this section and think of the qualifications of the Representatives. The Constitution, however lists the qualifications of Representatives in the second paragraph. The first paragraph is actually addressing qualification of the electors or voters for Members of the House of Representatives. One must be qualified to vote.

It is significant to note the elements of freedom and State competence that are put into this paragraph. The Federal Government recognizes and defers to the competence of each State in choosing their State Representatives. This could be paraphrased as “whatever criteria you use to determine the qualification for voters who elect your State Representatives is good enough for us to elect your Congressmen on a national level.” What! no Federal Micro-Management?—How marvelous!

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