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Ray Bogan

Political Correspondent

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Politics

How can a member of the House represent a district they don’t live in?

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Ray Bogan

Political Correspondent

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Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., announced she’s going to run in a different congressional district in 2024. Boebert currently represents Colorado’s 3rd District, but she declared her candidacy for the GOP primary in the 4th District.

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“It’s the right move for me personally and it’s the right decision for our conservative movement,” Boebert said in a video announcing her decision.  

Boebert said she plans to move to the 4th District in the coming months.

How can someone run for office or represent a district they don’t live in? The simple answer is the Constitution doesn’t require it. 

Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution lays out three requirements to become a member of the House of Representatives: 

  • The person must be 25 years old. 
  • They must be a citizen for seven years.
  • They must live in the state in which they were elected.

The Constitution doesn’t say anything about living in the district. 

The Supreme Court has multiple rulings that prohibit changes to those rules. 

U.S. Term Limits Inc. v. Thornton: The court ruled that states cannot add their own qualifications on top of those already in the Constitution. 

After that decision, Missouri voters adopted an amendment to their state Constitution which instructed each member of their congressional delegation to support and work to pass the Congressional Term Limits Amendment.

The change to the state Constitution also required the Missouri secretary of state to put a positive or negative mark next to the candidate’s name on the ballot to indicate their view on term limits. However, the Supreme Court unanimously shot the change down. 

Cook v. Gralike: According to Oyez, the justices ruled that placing a mark next to a candidates name was an unconstitutional attempt to regulate electoral outcomes. 

Powell v. McCormack: The justices concluded that while the House can expel a member, it cannot exclude a member that meets the three qualifying requirements and was duly elected by their constituents. 

Regardless of whether Boebert moves, she’s not the first person seeking to represent a place she doesn’t live in.

Rep. Maxine Waters, D, represents California’s 43rd District, which includes Compton. However, Waters lives north of the line.

Navy Veteran Joe Collins ran against Waters in 2020 and tried to use her place of residence against her. 

“Do you know where I am right now? Maxine Waters’ $6 million mansion,” Collins said in a political advertisement. “Do you know where I’m not right now? Maxine Waters’ district.”

Candidates often choose to run in locations where they do not reside for various reasons. Some candidates feel they may have a better chance to win with constituents that better align with their political views. In some cases, candidates did live in the district they represented, but they were drawn out of it due to redistricting.

It’s not clear exactly how many members of the House live somewhere outside their district, but a Washington Post report from 2017 found that it was more than 20 members.

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[RAY BOGAN]

Congresswoman Lauren Boebert announced she’s going to run in a different congressional district in 2024. 

She currently represents Colorado’s third district, but she declared her candidacy for the GOP primary in the 4th district.

Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-CO: “It’s the right move for me personally and it’s the right decision for our conservative movement.” 

Boebert says she plans to move to the 4th district in the coming months. But how can someone run for office or represent a district they don’t live in? The simple answer is the constitution doesn’t require it. 

Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution lays out three requirements to become a member of the House of Representatives: 

The person must be 25 years old, have been a citizen for seven years, and live in the state in which they were elected. It doesn’t say anything about living in the district. 

The Supreme Court has multiple rulings that prohibit changes to those rules. 

In U.S. Term Limits Inc. v. Thornton the court ruled that states cannot add their own qualifications on top of those already in the constitution. 

After that decision, Missouri voters adopted an amendment to their state constitution which instructed each member of their congressional delegation to support and work to pass the Congressional Term Limits Amendment. The change to the state constitution also required the Missouri Secretary of State to put a positive or negative mark next to the candidate’s name on the ballot to indicate their view on term limits. But the Supreme Court unanimously shot that down. 

According to Oyez, the Justices ruled that placing a mark next to a candidates name was an unconstitutional attempt to regulate electoral outcomes. 

And in Powell v. McCormack, the justices concluded that while the House can expel a member, it cannot exclude a member that meets the three qualifying requirements and was duly elected by their constituents. 

Regardless of whether Boebert moves, she’ll be far from the first person to seek to represent a place she doesnt live in. 

Congresswoman Maxine Waters represents California’s 43rd district which includes Compton. But she lives north of the line. 

Navy Veteran Joe Collins ran against Waters in 2020 and tried to use that against her. 

Joe Collins: “Do you know where I am right now? Maxine Waters’ $6 million mansion. Do you know where I’m not right now? Maxine Waters’ district. “

[RAY BOGAN]

There are different reasons why candidates run in a place they don’t live. Some feel they may have a better chance to win with constituents that better align with their political views. Others though did live in the district they represent, and were drawn out of it due to redistricting. It’s not clear exactly how many members of the House live somewhere outside their district, but a Washington Post report from 2017 revealed that it was more than 20. Straight from DC, I’m Ray Bogan.