In both houses members of congress are elected by a measure known as the direct popular vote, the process breaks down as follows, members of the senate are voted in through a statewide election, and house representatives are elected in the congressional district. The rule of how senators are elected is laid out in the constitution under Article 1, Section 3 of our constitution wherein each state will pick its two senators, the idea behind this is to create a solid bond between federal and state legislators. Before 1913 this system saw a lot of issues because of the many seats it left vacant and it even resulted in some states not being represented. The 17th amendment was passed to combat this issue that same year brought about the system we have currently, the requirement for the senate that they must be thirty years of age, a citizen of the united states for nine years, and a resident of the state at the time of the election. Two senators are sent to represent their state in the senate and senate terms last six years but they can be reelected as many times as their constituents want and are elected in a statewide election. In contrast to this, the house of representatives is based on population and has a two-year term. The house of representative requirement is that the member must be twenty-five years old and must have been a citizen for seven years. Currently, California has fifty-three representatives while small states like Vermont and Delaware have one representative because of their size. As we discussed in class even with a small population of 961,939, Delaware gets to send two senators to congress, the same as a big state like Texas, which has 28.30 million people sent.
After briefly explaining how congressional elections happen and what the rules and requirements are to become elected, I want to move on to the next part of the question which is why the rules used in congress impact the election the way it does and why it’s become harder to accept that notion of representation in US congress. People continuously talk about Gerrymandering as the biggest issue, which is a way to gain unfair political advantage via manipulations of district boundaries. As discussed extensively in class, gerrymandering can be done in two main ways either cracking which is spreading out the voting power of one district to weaken their voice as a whole, or the use of packing wherein votes are lumped in with other districts concentrating the opposing party’s voting power. Moreover, in our topic of representation Gerrymandering usually helps or hinders certain demographics making it seem like those getting elected are picking who will vote for them instead of just being voted for naturally. This is where the major headache of representation comes into play. In answering the question are we really represented Harry Enten the author in one of our readings states that even though Gerrymandering adds to Uncompetitive elections, extremism, and gridlock, these factors are not the only cause of the problem, in the article Ending Gerrymandering the author discusses the complexities of drawing a district citing that there isn’t really a right way to do this and it would be better to promote competitiveness or nonwhite representation? One could argue that the decrease in the number of competitive states is a clear sign that voters are being left behind or dragged along and added to votes for candidates they wouldn’t in fact vote for however gerrymandering cannot be blamed alone because the idea of “Self-sorting” also plays a major role individual are moving into regions with people of political likeness with them. In the article, the author calls this Pre-gerrymandered. In the next topic Extremism, the author Enten talks about having more extreme representatives in the house than there were 20 years ago, what we can digest from extremism is how it causes the polarization we see today and a bulk of the childish behavior congress engages in more regularly. Finally Gridlock the article point Obama’s opinion on Gerrymandering being a key cause of Gridlock He stated and I quote “I think gerrymandering has resulted in a situation in which – with 80 percent democrat districts and 80 percent Republican districts and no competition, that leads to more and more polarization in Congress, and it gets harder and harder to get things done.”- Barack Obama (2015 NPR ). So, with that said it is very clear that the question of what it means to be represented in America is complicated yet simple. With so much obvious manipulation of the system, I doubt Americans are fairly represented. The solution to this dilemma, lies in the hands of voters, I think there should be a push for more accountability and those voting should look to candidates who are more moderate in political belief so we can see more bipartisan in our congress. The last thing I would really change with congress is the re-election possibility for senators, I would propose that senators can only serve one term of six years or limit it to no more than two sets of six terms so they are forced to act on behalf of those who sent them instead of just those loyal to them.