Is the House of Represenatitives ever *not* up for re-election every 2 years?

See where some people can’t believe the entire House of Represenatives is up for election next year because “if that were true, then wouldn’t it be in the news”? Some people snoozed throuch civics class, i guess.

But it got me thinking – there’s ALWAYS a special case. Surely there must have been some case in the past 200 years where one member of the House got to skip an election cycle. Maybe during Reconstruction? Maybe during time of war or emergency, an election was postponed? Maybe some state legislature was playing some weird electoral rigging game of chicken and refused to call an election? I don’t know what the circumstances were, but I’m sure SOMETHING weird must have happened at some point in american history.

Can anybody think of an example when at least one seat in the House of Representatives wasn’t up for election during an even numbered year?

Nope. There has never been a time in American history where we’ve cancelled (or delayed) a general election. Not even during the Civil War. Granted the states in rebellion didn’t vote, but the rest of the country did. Most congressmen from the seceding states went back home. A few affirmed their loyalty to the Union and were allowed to stay, but lost their seats when no election was held in their home states.

Only possibility I can think of is a situation where a candidate is killed very shortly before the election.

But even then, I think most states would just hold the election, with the dead candidate still on the ballot. That candidate’s party would hold a quick meeting to nominate someone else, and generally, votes for the dead candidate would be counted for the new candidate from that party.

One of the little-remarked-upon but still amazing things about the US.

Well, in the few cases I’ve heard of (not House races), if it’s after the deadline for ballot changes, the dead candidate stays on the ballot, and can win. If he does, the seat is filled by the normal method of filling a vacancy in that office – in the case of the House, a special election would be held.

There are House special elections to fill out the term of anyone who leaves office (either through death or resignation) and they can be held at any time. However, the winner only fills out the rest of the term, and will stand for reelection the same year everyone else in the House does.

What the US Constitution has to say on the matter:

That’s it. Note that a House seat may only be filled by election. Unlike the Senate, a Representative cannot be appointed to fill a vacant seat; he or she must be elected.

A really good example of this would be the NY-23 election last month. Rep. John McHugh resigned to accept appointment as Secretary of the Army; the special election was held to fill out his unexpired term, which expires Jaunary 3, 2011. In eleven months NY-23 like 434 other House seats will be filled at the 2010 general election.

Little-known fact: The Resident Commissioner (nonvoting delegate) from Puerto Rico to the House of Representatives has a four-year term. The RC, of course, has no constitutional status, which is why the four-year term is permissible. However he or she is considered a “member of the House” in laws relating to staff, franking privileges, salary, and so forth. The RC may speak and vote in committee and speak but not vote on the floor.

An even better example of this was the 2006 Texas 22nd race. Tom Delay was the Congressman, and had won the Republican primary for the seat to be reelected in 2006. After he won the primary, though, he resigned, and so there had to be a special election to fill his seat. Now, meanwhile, Texas law says that if you win a primary, you have to be on the ballot, So even though he wasn’t going to run for reelection, his name still was on the ballot for the regular 2006 election race.

Both the special election (to fill the vacancy) and the regular election were held on election day, and they both pitted the Republican, Shelley Sekula-Gibbs against the Democrat, Nick Lampson. But, since for the regular election, Tom Delay was the guy on the ballot (because of the aforementioned Texas law), Sekula-Gibbs had to run a write in campaign, and since nobody wanted to bother trying to spell Sekula-Gibbs, she won the special election to fill out the rest of Delay’s term (where she was on the ballot), and Lampson won the general election, to fill the 2007-2009 term (where she wasn’t on the ballot and had to be written in).

So, Shelley Selula-Gibbs was congresswoman for about 51 days and actively served for only about 11 days in the lame duck session of Congress right before the new Congress gets sworn in.

That’s not entirely accurate. Lampson didn’t actively contest the expiring term. Sekula-Gibbs won essentially unopposed on the expiring term, Lampson won on the new election for which he did campaign.

The write-in aspect probably didn’t help Sekula-Gibbs, but wasn’t the sole reason she won the first and lost the second.

Of course, I prefer to remenisce about the election where Ashcroft couldn’t beat a dead guy; but that was for senate…

As much joy as that particular fact gives me, Ashcroft was, I believe, beating him while he was still alive. It’s really hard to campaign against a dead guy without seeming ghoulish.


Which is why I lose patience with people who shriek, “Clinton is going to cancel the next election!”, “Bush is going to cancel the next election!”, “Obama is going to cancel the next election!”

Now I’m curious if there are any reliable sources of popular opinions from 1863 or early to mid 1864 saying essentially, “Lincoln is going to cancel the next election!”

And if those opinions were just as mock-worthy then as these are now.