House of Representatives Apportionment
Due to the fact that this is an Election year, all of the Representatives of the House of Representatives are up for re-election. The simple fact that not many people know how or why they have the amount of Representatives they have, has prompted this post. There are 435 Representatives currently serving and that number hasn’t changed since 1929. First, let’s look at the History.
The Constitution of the United States has this to say on apportionment:
Article 1, Section 2: The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative;
In 1911, the 62rd Congress passed a law called the Apportionment Act of 1911. This law stated that the grand total of Representatives serving will be 433 and that those 433 would be apportioned to the States according to the total population of the State and if Arizona and New Mexico joined the Union they would each get 1 Representative. According to census data for 1900, the total population of the United States was 76,303,387. This law didn’t take effect until 1913 with the 63rd Congress.
Then in 1929, the Reapportionment Act of 1929 capped the total Representatives at the present 435, but allowed for shifts in Representatives due to population shifts.
Now let’s look at how these apportionments have affected the House of Representatives through every census year.
|Year||Population||Total Representatives||Rep. per population size|
Now let’s look at a State by State breakdown of the 2010 census and a 2013 estimate:
|State||Seats in U.S. House, 2013-2023||Census population, April 1, 2010||2010 Census pop. Per House Seat||Population estimate for Jul 1, 2013||2013 Estimated pop. Per House Seat|
|District of Columbia||0||601,723||0||646,449||0|
|The Fifty States||435||308,143,815||708,376||315,482,390||725,249|
|50 states + D.C.||435||308,745,538||—||316,128,839||—|
Here are the relevant codes from the United States Code:
2 USC §2a. Reapportionment of Representatives; time and manner; existing decennial census figures as basis; statement by President; duty of clerk
(a) On the first day, or within one week thereafter, of the first regular session of the Eighty-second Congress and of each fifth Congress thereafter, the President shall transmit to the Congress a statement showing the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed, as ascertained under the seventeenth and each subsequent decennial census of the population, and the number of Representatives to which each State would be entitled under an apportionment of the then existing number of Representatives by the method known as the method of equal proportions, no State to receive less than one Member.
(b) Each State shall be entitled, in the Eighty-third Congress and in each Congress thereafter until the taking effect of a reapportionment under this section or subsequent statute, to the number of Representatives shown in the statement required by subsection (a) of this section, no State to receive less than one Member. It shall be the duty of the Clerk of the House of Representatives, within fifteen calendar days after the receipt of such statement, to send to the executive of each State a certificate of the number of Representatives to which such State is entitled under this section. In case of a vacancy in the office of Clerk, or of his absence or inability to discharge this duty, then such duty shall devolve upon the Sergeant at Arms of the House of Representatives.
(c) Until a State is redistricted in the manner provided by the law thereof after any apportionment, the Representatives to which such State is entitled under such apportionment shall be elected in the following manner: (1) If there is no change in the number of Representatives, they shall be elected from the districts then prescribed by the law of such State, and if any of them are elected from the State at large they shall continue to be so elected; (2) if there is an increase in the number of Representatives, such additional Representative or Representatives shall be elected from the State at large and the other Representatives from the districts then prescribed by the law of such State; (3) if there is a decrease in the number of Representatives but the number of districts in such State is equal to such decreased number of Representatives, they shall be elected from the districts then prescribed by the law of such State; (4) if there is a decrease in the number of Representatives but the number of districts in such State is less than such number of Representatives, the number of Representatives by which such number of districts is exceeded shall be elected from the State at large and the other Representatives from the districts then prescribed by the law of such State; or (5) if there is a decrease in the number of Representatives and the number of districts in such State exceeds such decreased number of Representatives, they shall be elected from the State at large.
2 USC §2b. Number of Representatives from each State in 78th and subsequent Congresses
Each State shall be entitled, in the Seventy-eighth and in each Congress thereafter until the taking effect of a reapportionment under a subsequent statute or section 2a of this title, to the number of Representatives shown in the statement transmitted to the Congress on January 8, 1941, based upon the method known as the method of equal proportions, no State to receive less than one Member.
2 USC §2c. Number of Congressional Districts; number of Representatives from each District
In each State entitled in the Ninety-first Congress or in any subsequent Congress thereafter to more than one Representative under an apportionment made pursuant to the provisions of section 2a(a) of this title, there shall be established by law a number of districts equal to the number of Representatives to which such State is so entitled, and Representatives shall be elected only from districts so established, no district to elect more than one Representative (except that a State which is entitled to more than one Representative and which has in all previous elections elected its Representatives at Large may elect its Representatives at Large to the Ninety-first Congress).