A Better House Of Representatives

November 6, 2020 Posted by zachary

While everyone is focused on the Presidential Election this year, I want to point out just how undemocratic and unrepresentative the US House of Representatives is.

In 1911, The House capped its membership at 435 members, the number of representatives at the time. The only time that increased was for a brief period after Alaska and Hawaii were brought into the Union. It was quickly brought back down to 435 members after then next census.During the following 100+ years, the US population increased by more than 3 times (92 million to 309 million). But we have not seen an increase in House membership to reflect that.

There are currently 7 states that have only 1 Representative in the House. According to the 2010 census, the populations of these states vary from 563k to 989k. That varying population means that there is less genuine representation in Montana (989k) than in Wyoming (563k).

The limitations in travel and technology present in 1911 when the House was capped is no longer an issue. Representatives can fly from their state to DC in a matter of hours. We have technology today that means that meetings and votes can be held virtually. The need to be in Washington at all is no longer relevant.

To fix this mass undemocratic body, I propose the following change (which I believe has been presented by others before me).

We should eliminate the cap entirely. Instead, we should set a floor. This floor will be that the least populated state in the Union gets at minimum 5 Representatives. If 5 would result in the members representing fewer than 30,000 people (the minimum set in the Constitution) then that state gets as many as that limit would allow. Then the Representation of the other states is based off that proportion.

If this were in place today, Wyoming would have 5 Representatives, and the proportion other states are based on would be 1 Representative for every 112,000 people. So, for example, Oklahoma would have 33 Representatives and California would have 330. For a total House size of roughly 2,700 members. Thanks to technology available today, there would be no reason for all those House members to have offices in DC, or to even have to travel there. They could be permanently stationed in their home states where they are more available to their constituents.

This change will also have the result of reducing the impact of the 2 at large Electors representing the 2 members of the Senate for all States. Meaning that the full Elector slate of each state will be more closely inline with the populations of the individual states.

EDIT:

To go along with this post about the House of Representatives and just how unrepresentative it is, I created a spreadsheet that gave me the data. This spreadsheet shows the population of the 50 US states as of 2010, their current number of Representatives, then in it goes into projecting various scenarios of Representative numbers based on different criteria. Basically, any scenario that isn’t a hard cap is going to increase the total number of Representatives.

State Representatives Current and Projected

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