It seems as if the election cycle is never truly over. As soon as one ends, they begin talking about another one coming up sooner rather than later. There are varying term lengths for state, local and federal offices. The U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate are two of the elections that affect voters more immediately and more frequently than national elections.

Understanding how the system works can help you on any constitution scavenger hunt you may need to complete for a school project. This basic knowledge of government will help you in many ways and is important to understanding how politics work in the United States.

House of Representatives Term

The U.S. House of Representatives term lasts two years. They must seek reelection within those two years to maintain their seat. U.S. Senators serve six-year terms. When congressional elections occur during a president’s term in office, they happen two years into the commander in chief’s term.

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This gives them the moniker of midterm elections, which can disrupt the partisan sway of the U.S. House of Representatives to either Democrat or Republican. This puts a lot of pressure on the midterm elections.

House Details

It’s an important job that brings state matters to the federal stage. All of the laws that citizens live under need to pass through the hands of those who are in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. There are 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and 100 seats in the U.S. Senate. About one third of the seats are up for reelection each term. The house representatives are charged with sponsoring bills once they pass a majority vote. Those bills move to the Senate in order to become law if they pass.

Amendments to Know

A hot topic in politics and places of law is search and seizure, yet many people may not know which amendment requires a warrant to search someone’s property. The 4th Amendment, which was ratified in December of 1791, states that “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.”

For those studying voter’s rights, it’s good to know which amendment extended the vote to 18-year-old citizens. The 26th amendment states that, “The right of citizens of the United States, who are 18 years of age or older, to vote, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of age.” This distinctly prohibits any state from discriminating against voters due to their age. It was the last amendment in a series that expanded constitutional protection for the rights of voters. The 26th amendment was ratified in March of 1971.

About the Author

Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing about education, jobs, business and more for The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Today’s Parent and other publications. She graduated with a B.A. in Journalism from UNLV. Her full bio and clips can be seen at www.vegaswriter.com.