Rhode Island Gets a Historic New Member of Congress 

Gabe Amo won a special election and will become the first African American to represent Rhode Island in the House of Representatives.

Gabe Amo has just started a new job this winter. On November 7, 2023, he was the first African American from Rhode Island to be elected to the House of Representatives. As you may know, congressional elections took place last year. So, why was Representative Amo elected this year? He won a special election. 

Special elections happen when someone in Congress resigns or dies. Voters choose a replacement. In the case of Rhode Island, Representative David Cicilline resigned from the House of Representatives. He decided to take a different job. Now he leads an organization that focuses on charity. 

When someone leaves the US Senate, the governor of the state will appoint a replacement senator until the special election. In the US House of Representatives, the seat is vacant [empty], until the special election. The citizens in a vacant district are not represented until they elect a replacement. The rules for special elections are different in each state. In some states, they happen as soon as possible. Other states wait until their next general election. In Rhode Island’s case, the next general election was an off-year election. 

Off-year elections take place in between presidential elections and midterm congressional elections. In addition to any special elections, voters get to make choices about local issues. Other notable results from this year’s election included the reelection of the governor of Kentucky, the election of first female mayor of Philadelphia, and democrats taking control of both branches of Virginia’s legislative branch. 

What Do You Think? Voter turnout is not as high in off-year elections. Why do you think it might be important to vote in these elections? 

Photo Credit: Steven Senne/AP Photo