The Constitution of the United States: Article I – Section 2

Article I – Section 2 is a bit longer, so we’ll break it into chunks, starting with paragraph 1:

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.

The first part of the sentence is pretty direct, but what does the second half mean? It sounds like each state gets to determine what the qualifications are for being allowed to vote and that those qualifications are determined by the largest branch of each state legislature. If anyone has a reference that explains this clause in simple terms be sure to leave a comment.

Moving on to paragraph 2:

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.

Qualifications for being elected as Representative: age 25 or older, citizen of the US for at least 7 years and live in the state that you are representing. So there are no legal barriers for me to run for one the three House of Representative seats in Utah, good to know :-)

Paragraph 3:

[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]1. 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.

1 – This part has been modified by the 14th Amendment

Spells out the algorithm for determining the number of representatives that each state gets, with the minimum being 1. This algorithm then gets re-run every 10 years.

Paragraph 4:

When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.

When a vacancy occurs then the Governor of that state has to call a special election in order to fill the seat. I wonder if there are any associated requirements. For instance, what if the Governor doesn’t want to call a special election, can he just stall and drag out the process, or must it be done with in a certain time frame?

Paragraph 5:

The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.

The leadership of the House is determined by it’s members, and they the can only be impeached by the other members. This begs the question, how many members of the House of Representatives have been impeached?

Other Constitution posts.

2 thoughts on “The Constitution of the United States: Article I – Section 2”

  1. “and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature”

    To the best of my knowledge, this is referring to the people who were elected by the populace, who then elected the Representatives (and maybe Senators) to DC. This country started as a Republic, not a Democracy, and these “Electors” were just a more local version of the Electoral College, which we still use to elect the President.

  2. I’m still not entirely clear on this. It mentions “most numerous branch of the state legislature”, isn’t there at least one state that doesn’t have multiple branches in their legislature? Nebraska, that’s the one I was thinking of. Since they only have one branch I guess that branch by definition is the largest :-)

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