Each state has basic requirements that must be met to serve in the legislature. Candidates must meet the requirements, which are usually listed in each state’s constitution, before they are eligible to serve in the legislature.
Candidate requirements generally fall into five categories: age, district residency, state residency, duration of U.S. citizenship and whether the potential candidate is a registered voter.
The minimum age requirement to be a state senator ranges from 18 to 30 years old, and from 18 to 25 for a state representative. Thirteen states require legislators to be residents of their district at the time of filing, while the rest require district residence from between 30 days (Nevada) to five years (Massachusetts Senate) at time of the election. Six states (Kansas, Michigan, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Washington) require state residency at the time of filing. Other states’ residency requirements range from 30 days (Rhode Island) to seven years (New Hampshire Senate). Some states have different residency requirements for the senate and the house of representatives. Most states require legislators to be U.S. citizens and registered voters. The table below details each state’s eligibility requirements to run for the legislature.