Congressional elections determine who represents your state in Congress. Congress is the branch of the federal government that makes laws. It includes the House of Representatives and the Senate. Learn how the three branches of government work.
Congressional elections use the popular vote to choose winners. They don't use the Electoral College, which is used in presidential elections.
Midterm elections (PDF, Download Adobe Reader) occur halfway between presidential elections. Voters choose one-third of senators and every member of the House of Representatives. The congressional elections on November 6 are "midterms."
Midterms determine which party—Democratic or Republican—will control each chamber of Congress for the next two years. The party that controls a chamber usually wins that chamber's legislative votes. Proposed legislation must pass in the House and the Senate for it to reach the president's desk.
U.S. House of Representatives
Members of the U.S. House of Representatives serve two-year terms. All 435 members get elected every midterm and presidential election year. The number of representatives a state has depends on its population. Each representative serves a specific congressional district. A representative must be at least 25, a U.S. citizen for at least seven years, and live in the state he or she represents.
Senators serve six-year terms. One-third of senators get elected during each midterm and each presidential election year. There are 100 U.S. senators, two from each state. A senator must be at least 30, a U.S. citizen for at least nine years, and live in the state he or she represents.