Q. 23: Name Your U.S. Representative

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The United States House of Representatives has 435 voting members.

To pass the US citizenship test, you will have to answer 10 of a possible 100 questions. The following question is from the USCIS test.

Name your U.S. representative.

Answer:

Your answer will vary.

The following is a full explanation of the USCIS question and suggestions on how to find out who your U.S. Representative is:

The House of Representatives

The U.S. House of Representatives is composed of 435 voting members and six non-voting members. Each member represents the people within their congressional district. Because of the sheer number of representatives and the ever-changing borders of the districts, each individual’s representative varies drastically.

The only exception to this rule is the non-voting members representing districts whose borders encompass entire United States territories. Although the representatives for the District of Columbia, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Northern Mariana Islands may change every two years, the borders of their districts will not.

Non-Voting Members

For United States citizens who live in any one of the six territories or districts of the United States, while they can elect a representative to Congress, that representative does not have any voting powers. Known as non-voting members, these delegates may be assigned to committees and even have voting power within those committees but do not have the right to vote on the chamber floor.

As non-voting members of the House of Representatives, these delegates have limited powers regarding congressional actions that affect the nation as a whole. Moreover, while the Constitution guarantees equal rights to suffrage, that guarantee only extends to the 50 United States states. As a result, these same territories and districts have no representation in the Senate.

Search by Zip Code

Perhaps one of the easiest ways to determine who your representative is is to search by ZIP Code. The United States House of Representatives maintains an updated database of all the congressional districts and elected officials. This information is updated regularly as the borders of districts change.

Because of a process known commonly as gerrymandering, multiple delegates may represent a single ZIP Code. As a result, when searching for your representative, it may be necessary to also provide your street address. This allows you to fine-tune your search to determine which district you live in.

Search by Map

It is possible to determine your representative by using a map search. However, the map searches available online represent the current state of division within the House of Representatives and the borders of each district as of the last election.

The map search feature should not be used to determine what district you are in for any future elections but rather only to determine who your current representative is. For those who are more visually inclined and live in large metropolitan areas, the map search may be a better choice for many.

Biennial Elections

Each of the 435 delegates in the House of Representatives serves a two-year term. The biennial elections for congressional representation occur on election day every two years. Election day is the first Tuesday immediately following the first Monday of the year ending with an even number.

A delegate, once elected, will be seated in the House of Representatives on January 3, the year immediately following the election. The representative will continue to represent their district for two years. If a member of the House of Representatives is unable to complete their term, a special election must be held within that district to elect a replacement.

Special Elections

A special election is so-called because it generally occurs in between general elections. If a delegate of the House of Representatives either resigns or passes away, his or her vacancy must be filled as soon as possible. It is the responsibility of the governor of the affected state to call for a special election to take place.

Anyone who is elected during a special election is not guaranteed a term of two years. Instead, House members who win a special election are merely replacements who fill the vacancy and serve only the remaining term of the candidate they replaced.

It is the responsibility of each state to set its laws, rules, and regulations concerning special elections. As a result, the time and manner in which each individual state fills vacancies vary. To date, every state in the Union except Idaho and Iowa has held a special election to fill vacancies in the House of Representatives on Capitol Hill.

Although considered non-voting members, representatives of United States territories who die or retire must also be replaced. On the rare occasion that there is a vacancy for one of these non-voting seats, the affected district or United States territory is nevertheless required to fill that vacancy.

Reaching Out to Your Representative

There are several ways for you to reach out to your representative. Today, with the many advances in technology, voters may reach their representatives by phone, fax, email, snail-mail, and any number of social media outlets. However, regardless of the method constituents use to reach out, it is important to address your representative appropriately.

The United States House of Representatives does not maintain an individual database of each representative’s contact information. As a result, this information cannot be obtained through standardized ZIP Codes or map searches. Instead, you must first determine who that person is to reach out to your representative.

Each member of the House of Representatives has their own website. These websites provide public email addresses, contact addresses, phone numbers, fax numbers, and social media accounts. Generally, this contact information is for the local district offices of that representative.

Since delegates of the House of Representatives spend the vast majority of their time in office in the capital, it is also possible to reach them through the United States House switchboard operator. It is important to note that it is always better to reach out to your representative through their respective local district offices rather than through the House switchboard operator.

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