We currently have 435 members of the House of Representatives.
Nowhere in the Constitution is there a mention of how many members of the House there should be. The number grew over the years as the population increased and then, in 1929, Congress set the limit at 435 and there it has stayed.
Just a quick primer: Every ten years there is a census and the country is then divided up into 435 districts of as equal a population as possible. Every ten years, some states get new House members (California, Texas and Florida mostly) and some states lose them (Ohio and Pennsylvania among them) as the population grows and moves to warmer climates.
Here’s the big problem: You can’t divide across state lines, and you can’t have less than one representative per state. So we end up with some states with only one House member in a district much smaller than the average district.
Wyoming is the least populous state. There are more people living in Washington, DC than in all of Wyoming. Wyoming gets one representative who represents all 500,000 or so of their residents. Meanwhile, the rest of the country divides up the best it can.
It gets worse when you consider the Electoral College. Each state gets one elector for each representative they have in Congress plus two for each Senator. This means Wyoming’s three electors represent about 188,000 people but each elector in California has to represent 677,000. Why should one state’s elector have more power than another state’s?
Well, the easiest solution is just to get rid of the Electoral College (of course) but that requires a Constitutional amendment needing 75% of the states to approve, and guess which states would be against that? Yep. The smaller states who also, not coincidentally, are mostly all Republican. They like the Electoral College because it’s helped them get two popular-vote-losing Presidents into the White House within the past 16 years.
So many are now arguing for Congress to change the number of representatives using the “Wyoming Plan.”
Basically, you would take the smallest district (which is currently Wyoming) and use that as a bottom, meaning all other districts in the country would need to be as close to that size as possible.
We’d end up with a House membership of 546 instead of 435, and that’s not unreasonable for a country with a population as large as ours. And you wouldn’t need an amendment — just a majority of Congress to pass the law.
Just one more reason for you to vote Democratic in November.