Reapportionment

A Census Bureau Map of the 2000 Reapportionment

In Article 1, Section 2, the Constitution of the United states declares that Representatives and direct taxes will be apportioned among the states, and that in order to accomplish this end, “an 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.”

This is the Constitutional mandate for the 2010 Census, the basis upon which the Congress to be elected in 2012 will be apportioned among the 50 states. But it isn’t at all so simple as that may sound.

The history of reapportionment and redistricting, both nationally and within the various states, is extraordinarily interesting, if occasionally esoteric, cutting to the heart of political power and interest. Last time around, Texas redistricting witnessed nearly half the state legislature (and effectively all the Democrats) hiding out in Oklahoma to deny the state legislature a quorum to vote on one redistricting scheme. And that’s only one of many colorful tales that pepper the history of reapportionment.

This time around, projections based upon the latest population estimates vary, but several reasonable conjectures indicate a likelihood that Texas will gain as many as three congressional seats (perhaps even four), with Florida gaining one and perhaps two, and Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington, and perhaps North Carolina and Oregon, likely to gain one each. Alternatively, Ohio is considered likely to lose two congressional seats, with Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, and possibly California, losing one each.

All of this assumes that the Congress chooses to keep the House of Representatives fixed at 435 seats. And, of course, the Congress may at will change the methodology used for allocating seats among the states.

In American Scientist, Barry Cipra explores the mathematics of reapportionment in E Pluribus Confusion.

For a bit more on the question of reapportionment, see our earlier post Census Count Continues, the Census 2000 Brief on Congressional Reapportionment published in July 2001, Southern Studies’ post South’s Clout to Grow After 2010 Census, But How Much?, and the National Council of State Legislatures’ Redistricting page, with a number of resources oriented toward the individual states.

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Published in: on June 17, 2010 at 4:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

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