Free Markets, Free People


Should House districts cross state lines?

That’s the solution that came to my mind when I read this piece in the New York Times.

I don’t think my suggestion would violate the important aspects of our constitutional design.

As attractive as the idea of having fewer constituents represented by each Representative may be, increasing the number of seats to around 1,000 would make the House unwieldy.  Dunbar’s number reflects the difficulty of becoming familiar with large numbers of other people, so in very large bodies, it becomes difficult for one “side” to get to know the other.  That increases the tendency toward misunderstanding and factionalism, with negotiations handled entirely by a relatively small number of leaders, whips, and committee chairs.

Then there are logistical issues involved with more than doubling the size of the House (where will they all sit?), and — this might be a minor issue, but — do we want to pay 1,000 Congressmen and their staffs?  Do we expect that Congress will produce better legislation with 1100 members than it does with 538?

But the status quo does seem flawed.  The Senate may be designed to give some people more representation than others, but that’s because the Senate traditionally was supposed to be the great protector of the states.  The House was intended from the start to represent the people directly rather than the people as represented by their states, so for one legislator to represent 958,000 people (Montana) while another represents 527,000 (Rhode Island) doesn’t seem quite right.

There are a number of places where it strikes me as natural that a House district would cross state lines, because the people on either side of the border have more in common with each other than they do with other people in their state.

If an agreeable method of choosing where those lines are drawn can be devised, I see only one major difficulty with this idea.  That is: how to treat electors for the Electoral College.  If a district straddles two states that vote differently for president, the solution I see is this:

  • Each state delivers its 2 base electoral votes to whoever wins the state.
  • Any district which doesn’t cross a state border delivers its elector to whoever won the state.
  • If a district straddles a state border where the states voted differently, its elector votes for whoever won the district.

That might actually improve the Electoral College.

But perhaps I’m missing some other important snag here.  Your thoughts?

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Tumblr
  • Digg
  • Reddit
  • email
  • Print
  • Google Bookmarks

35 Responses to Should House districts cross state lines?

  • To be honest, I am loathe to tinker with the US Constitution right now, owing as we have a thug in the White House who would like nothing more than stripping away the rights of people he does not like (Republicans, conservatives, Blue-dog Democrats, white people, etc.) and replace them with rights for people he does like (Leftists, the lunatic fringe, black rights groups, anti-religious nuts, anti-gun loons, etc.).

    On the merits, though, the founders set up a lower house to deal more with the people and the upper house to be more of a debate chamber. Perhaps we have gotten away from that original ideal, but I don’t know what can be done constitutionally to fix it other than ripping the document up and starting over, which, in these times, is a dangerous, dangerous idea.

    • You may be right — now is probably not the time to do it. Then again, if there’s a big shift against the Democrats in time for the 2010 election and census…

  • a. as you said paying 1000 congressmen and their staffs.

    b. do something to get rid of the gerrymandering

    c. TERM LIMITS. 3 terms total for representatives. 1 term total for Senators

    d. Aportion votes. Have 50 votes total. If State X has 5 representatives and 3 vote yes and 2 no on an issue than the 1 vote for that state is yes. if they split then .5 yes and .5 no. If there is a tie 25-25 at the end than whichever side got the most total votes from the representatives win.

    e. Do away with the Congress retirement benefits.

  • I’ll just get this out of the way: I’m 100% in favor of curbing gerrymandering. I’ve seen proposals for how it can be done quite fairly, according to basic rules (agreed-upon fair principles) fed into a software program that everyone can double-check.

    There are probably some little snags in coming up with principles that will really create sensible district boundaries, but it’s hard to imagine them screwing it up worse than people who painstakingly carve out noncompetitive districts to favor one party.

  • House districts cannot cross lines. It is unconstitutional. The people of each state are represented by their House representives as citizens of each state. The state itself is represented by its senators. The Constitution would have to be changed to have mult-state House districts, and that would by definition be a fundamental change in constitutional design.

    The Constitution, and hence the Federal (national) governnment, is a creature of the states. The states constitute a super-legislature that can amend the Constitution (or get rid of it, technically). Having House districts that crossed state lines would have many more effects than distributing representatives more evenly.

    Otherwise, simply increasing the number of Reps in the House is a legislative matter.

    • Yes, I understand that my idea would require a constitutional amendment.
      And I don’t see why “The people of each state are represented by their House representives as citizens of each state” necessarily. Can you think of a constitutional principle that is violated by this solution?

      Having House districts that crossed state lines would have many more effects than distributing representatives more evenly.

      Well, let’s talk about them. Would those effects be bad? Would they be worse than the status quo, or more than doubling the number of legislators? Is there some way to modify my suggestion that would resolve those problems without too much harm?

      • Well, the United States is just that, a national government formed by the individual states, that is, a sovereign union of sovereign states. The people participate as citizens of that sovereign union as citizens of their sovereign states. That is the basic dual sovereignty structure of the American political society.

        • Is there a compelling reason that one representative to the federal government could not represent citizens in more than one state (I mean, so long as he doesn’t hold two offices at once)? I’m trying to imagine what the negative consequences could be here.

          Currently, a Representative acts on behalf of the people, but what is his relation to the state from which those people hail? Unlike US Senators, Representatives were never intended to answer to a state government. His responsibility is to the people only. In what meaningful sense does he represent them as citizens of one sovereign state rather than as people or as citizens of the many States?

          • A compelling reason?

            Other than it being consistent with the structure of American political society?

            Each state is an individual sovereign (in its sphere) political society.

            So, each representative, in representing the people as citizens of their state, represents their competing interests with citizens of other states.

            The problems of representing citizens of both New York and Pennsylvania, for instance, would involve whole chains of decisions made within each of those political societies over their history that have led to different political cultures within different political societies. Then there is always the immediate competition of state interests. So, yes, there would be a conflict for a member of Congress representing citizens from both states.

          • I can think of several compelling reasons. Let’s just assume we have a district that is half in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Now, what happens if the Baucus bill comes to floor and defines “gold platted” health care such that it includes union health care in Mass, but is not a problem in New Hampshire? What happens if the Medicaid portion to the state increase? It is very possible that will have more impact on one state than the other.

            Your suggestion can easily put the representative in an impossible situation where a vote helps one state and hurts another. It would also be hard to draw a district which has equal people in each state. Wouldn’t the representative be inclined to support the people in the state with more of his voter and then not represent the voters in the other state.

            Rick

          • Martin – That last point is a good one and might be the clincher for me. Hmm. I do think that a representative of people in two states would pretty much always try to come to a decision that was fair (or at least favorable) to his constituents on both sides of the border. Otherwise he faces a possibility of a rather significant part of his base abandoning him. Wouldn’t you agree?

          • All sorts of arrangements can work. But the idea of a multi-state member of Congress is not part of the basic arrangement.

            Jumping the shark here, my proposal to the Tea Party movement is to next call a Continental Congress.

  • The agreed upon “principle” of how Congressional districts are created is that it is the job of state legislatures. There are some judicial restrictions that have been added through time (one man, one vote, for instance) as well as rulings that prohibit districts being specifically designed to represent racial groups (i.e., that go out of their way via gerrymandering to do so). Taking the decision away from the state legislatures and giving it to a software program would by necessity be a state-by-state legislative decision. Unless a court imposed it. Congress, I do not believe, has the power to do anything like that, i.e., usurp state legislative authority.

    Or, of course, there could be a Constitutional amendment mandating something like what you propose, but that would itself be a very dicey proposition.

    • Yes, state legislatures are generally in charge, although I recall in California we had a vote by statewide proposition (it failed).

      I’ll have to think a bit more on how an agreeable method of choosing where to draw those lines could be devised…

      • Bryan – I still don’t think you get just how blatantly unconstitutional this scheme is. It doesn’t matter if it’s good, bad, or indifferent. It doesn’t matter if it would help or hurt. All that matters is that it violates the Constitution, which means that *NO* court can impose it at any level, and Congress can pass *No* law instituting this.

        You have to rewrire Article 1, sec 2, and you have to strip the apportionment power away from the states and give it to some federal body. And you haven’t anticipated the huge problems this would cause – imagine a district with a small part of a left leaning state, say New Mexico, and a large part of a red state like Texas. The voters and politicians in New Mexico would be rioting on account of their rightful votes being given to Texas – and the same thing would happen in reverse. There would be chaos, that’s just how people are. The State lines have all been agreed on long ago – trying to upset that applecart would bring about virtual civil war.

        And here’s why a constitutional amendment on this topic would *Never* pass – you would have to convince 37 state legislatures, including all of the small states who would be most at risk to losing representation to neighboring large states, that they should give up their constitutionally mandated authority and autonomy in this area forever, and get nothing in return. (Both Dakota’s, for example, would be completely overwhelmed by Minnesota’s population)

        Ain’t ever going to happen, at least not until the day that someone comes up with a way to abolish States entirely and transfer everything to a single Federal behemoth. And I don’t think you would like that.

        I know I wouldn’t.

        • I “get” how unconstitutional it is. It’s as unconstitutional as pregnant is pregnant — not a matter of degree. I said it would require a constitutional amendment, which is by definition how things go from unconstitutional to constitutional.

          Now, I’d like to make a special request: please try to read my entire comment here to see how it all fits together before responding. The context is particularly important.

          You have to rewrire Article 1, sec 2, and you have to strip the apportionment power away from the states and give it to some federal body.

          Possibly not. The amendment could create rules according to which state legislatures must negotiate the “leftovers” in creating average-sized districts. For example, rules stating that the districts would have to be geographically contiguous (if at all possible), would have to be drawn according to other meaningful boundaries (like existing municipal boundaries, county lines, etc.), a certain size in relation to their other districts, etc., to simplify the terms of negotiations. I don’t know what all the rules would be, but this could be a far sight from having a federal body draw the lines.

          And you haven’t anticipated the huge problems this would cause – imagine a district with a small part of a left leaning state, say New Mexico, and a large part of a red state like Texas. The voters and politicians in New Mexico would be rioting on account of their rightful votes being given to Texas – and the same thing would happen in reverse.

          Lots of things wrong with this passage of yours. First, the “blue” parts of New Mexico don’t border Texas. If you look at a county-by-county red/purple/blue map of the States, you’ll see that sharp differences rarely occur at state borders. So geographically contiguous districts would most likely be pretty homogeneous, or at least as homogeneous as the current districts are.

          Second, it’s interesting that you choose the term “rightful votes”. What makes the current apportionment of votes among House districts “rightful”? Why wouldn’t it be just as rightful for districts to cross state lines, and if that were the status quo, how would people feel about switching to a system in which 958,000 people had the same representation as 527,000 people in another state? This is the House we’re talking about, which is supposed to represent the people directly in the federal government.

          Third, their votes wouldn’t be “given away” to another state. The district’s representative would have big incentives to treat people on both sides of the state border fairly, so their votes for Congress would still matter. Their 2 base votes for president would go to whomever won the state, and the votes of the border-straddling district would still be counted.

          There would be chaos, that’s just how people are. The State lines have all been agreed on long ago – trying to upset that applecart would bring about virtual civil war.

          I’m not suggesting changing state lines, just House districts, which change over time under the current system.

          And here’s why a constitutional amendment on this topic would *Never* pass – you would have to convince 37 state legislatures, including all of the small states who would be most at risk to losing representation to neighboring large states, that they should give up their constitutionally mandated authority and autonomy in this area forever, and get nothing in return. (Both Dakota’s, for example, would be completely overwhelmed by Minnesota’s population)

          First of all, the authority and autonomy of the states over their own territory is not in question. The question is of the people’s direct representation in the federal government. The people do not vote for their Representatives through the state government, and I don’t see why they must vote for Representatives as citizens of their particular state rather than as citizens of the many States, if the House is really about direct representation of the people.

          Second, the relative populations of the states do not mean that one state can “overwhelm” another. After any given census, districts might just as easily have more people in the smaller state as in the big state. It all depends on the average size of a Congressional district after the next census.
          Example: let’s say there are 300 million people in the US in 2010. Big state A borders on small state B, and big state C borders on small state D.

          300 million divided by 435 is roughly 690,000.
          Using clean numbers just for illustration, let’s say state A has 6,000,000 people and neighboring state B has 900,000. State A should have 8 average-sized districts with 480,000 left over, and state B should have 1 average-sized district with 210,000 left over.
          Mind you, under the current system, state B would only get one district, like Montana has. Under the new system, the people of state B get one district where a Rep is accountable to only 690,000 people, while the other 210,000 people make up over 30% of another district.

          On the other hand, let’s say State C has 5.8 million while state D has 1.1 million. Under the current system, state D has two Representatives, each with about 550,000 constituents (kinda like Rhode Island). But under the new system, one of their districts would have to incorporate about 280,000 citizens of state C, while the other would grow to 690,000.

          See, going by my suggestion, both big and small states could “gain” or “lose” depending on how many leftovers they have, but it would end up being a wash in any given census. A state might lose in one decade but gain in the next. So then the question just becomes, “Is this system more fair than having districts of extremely different sizes?”

  • If those tiny states have much in common with their neighbors, there’s nothing stopping them from incorporating into the neighboring state.

    I don’t think the system is broken at all.

    As for factionalism, my opinion is that you either none or a plethera. Anything else allows a few to manipulate the many. I’d want it so out of control, no one can backroom deal their way to victory.

    • If those tiny states have much in common with their neighbors, there’s nothing stopping them from incorporating into the neighboring state.

      I don’t think the system is broken at all.

      It’s not about how much they have in common — many Congressional districts have tons of people who don’t have much in common with other people in the district, like when legislators slice off a portion of their opponents’ stronghold and lump it into a district with a solid majority of their own party.

      The matter at hand is the fact that the chamber of Congress which is supposed to represent the people directly has widely varying ranges of representation for those people. Some people get a much larger vote than others — a person in Rhode Island effectively has only 55% of the voice of a person in Montana in the House — less than three-fifths of the vote, if you want a nasty historical comparison.

      That might have been the design of the Senate, where it serves the cause of protecting the states, but something is off about that being the case in the House.

      Incorporating into the neighboring state isn’t something you can easily renegotiate every 10 years as the population shifts. Creating new rules for apportionment allows for much easier changes in the House without having to abolish whole state governments or renegotiate state borders.

  • Let’s get back to first principles.

    The problem with the Congress is not its size, how the members are elected, how long they can serve, or how their districts are selected. The fundamental problem is that the Congress DOES TOO MUCH. Especially since the ’30s, it has steadily usurped the powers and priviledges of the states and people. The present health care crisis* is a perfect example: there is nothing in the Constitution that gives the Congress any authority in this area. Yet, they’ve taken it for themselves.

    If we somehow could get back to the original structure of the federal government with its limited, ENUMERATED powers, Congress would become far less important (read: tyrannical) than it is.

    Martin McPhillips[T]he United States is just that, a national government formed by the individual states, that is, a sovereign union of sovereign states.

    This is a vital concept that is all but dead in our country. The governors have become little more than province chiefs, elected by the people of their province but dancing far too much to Washington’s tune. Is it any wonder that local and state elections typically have miniscule turnout? People know that power resides in Washington; their state and local officials are largely irrelevent.

    —–

    (*) We DO face a health care crisis, but not of the sort the libs portray. The crisis we face is that the government is determined to take it over, which will make our health care less efficient, more costly, dependent on the caprice of the party in power, AND further degrade our liberties.

    • I’ve established in my previous posts at QandO that I favor much greater federalism and a return to a government of limited, enumerated powers.

      I just don’t see why we can’t address both those problems and this one. If we go back to first principles, the problem of lopsided representation doesn’t go away. Perhaps more of our attention should be devoted to the former than the latter, but… it already is.

    • Actually, no, the states retain enormous power. In fact, the states are not restricted by enumerated powers the way the federal government is. States are only restricted by certain powers they are disallowed, which belong to the sphere of the national government.

      Confusion on this matter is due to the big ticket items controlled at the federal level. But as law students famously recite, “the states make the law.” Ninety percent of all law you deal with each and every day is state law, passed by state legislatures, administered by state executives and executive agencies, and adjudicated to finality in state courts.

      I’m not denying the competition between the states and the feds, or the usurpations of state authority by the feds, but with all that the power of states is enormous and far less restricted in its dimensions than federal power.

  • Interstate Congressional districts face constitutional issues and would be very difficult to implement.

    Better than changing how we elect Congress would be changing how Congress operates. One, get rid of the stupid senority system and two make Congress read, and adhere to the Constitution, the actual, written on payer and not living Constitution, which only gives Congress about eight duties. It should not require a cast a thousand to faithfully execute eight duties.

    • I’ve established that I want Congress to adhere to the Constitution, but that doesn’t make this problem of wildly uneven representation go away.

  • Brian–There’s a problem with making the House unwieldy? Hell, I say make it 2,000 members.

    The entire purpose of the Constitution was to make the Federal Government unwieldy enough that it wouldn’t threaten the liberties of the people.

    It’s taken 200-odd years for the control freaks to figure out how to get around that unwieldyness–they finally figured out that the best thing to do is simply ignore (ok, mis-read) the Constitution’s plain words. It’s worked for them so far.

    • The entire purpose of the Constitution was to make the Federal Government unwieldy enough that it wouldn’t threaten the liberties of the people.

      No. The purpose of the Constitution was to increase the effectiveness with which the central government could exercise its powers, because the central government proved incapable of carrying out its ordained powers under the Articles of Confederation.

      It’s true that they built checks and balances into the design to ensure that the power wasn’t exercised in such a way that it threatened the liberty of the people, but is there any evidence that what they really wanted was to have so many legislators that they couldn’t possibly debate with one another or share ideas?

      In a voting body of 2,000 members, you’re just going to have more footsoldiers. They’ll still exercise the same powers, only with less effective deliberation.

  • Brain, I don’t think we really need more sitting congressmen just more churn in our congressmen. That is we need to get non stuffed suits in there every few years. How many congressmen have swung a hammer, sold a hammer, sat in a cube farm, saw a patient or taught a class?
    I’m just making this up as I type but I’d like to say I don’t mind long term elected officials. Professionals do bring something to the table. However I would like to have more nonprofessional control over one of the major pieces on the board.
    Maybe if we give the states back control of the Senate. They could put whomever they want in there for however long they want. The house I would give back to the people with a two term limit (like the president). Or we can play off the fact that 98% of people are decent and do the random voter “election”. Maybe make it like jury duty. Randomly select a pool of 3 people that represent the district and one of them has to get by in from the other two. Or let the people of the district decide how they choose their representative. If AZ D8 wants to have a contest that involves a chicken pooping on one of the photos of all the different candidates, then let them. This adds a bunch more controlled chaos that is harder for national interest groups to control without real grass roots support.

    I also like the computer programmed anti-gerrymandering idea. It seems to me that it would be easy to also program in the state lines so that we don’t have to deal with the legal problems with that. Open source the code so everything stays above board.

  • Article I. Section 2.
    No person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the age of twenty five years, and been seven years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that state in which he shall be chosen….
    …Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers,…
    …When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.

    Section 4. The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof;…

    Article II, Section 1.
    The Electors shall meet in their respective States,… etc.

    “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
    The current system may not be perfect but the amount of time and effort involved just in amending the Constitution would not be worth whatever speculative improvement there might be.

    I will spend my time on more productive things, like calculating the number of angels able to dance on the head of a pin.

    • Article I. Section 2.
      No person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the age of twenty five years, and been seven years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that state in which he shall be chosen….

      Easily amended. “An inhabitant of one of the states in which he shall be chosen”, or if we want to be more strict, “an inhabitant of the district in which he shall be chosen”.

      …Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers,…

      Yes. One might argue that right now Representatives are not apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers.

      …When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.

      I’m tempted to say this is another thing to be negotiated, but yeah, that probably is problematic. Good point.

      Section 4. The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof;…

      Hmmm, that does present more of a difficulty, if they generally have their elections on different days. Good point.

      Article II, Section 1.
      The Electors shall meet in their respective States,… etc.

      Might pose a tactical issue for presidential tickets if this were amended… but not too problematic.

      “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
      The current system may not be perfect but the amount of time and effort involved just in amending the Constitution would not be worth whatever speculative improvement there might be.

      Maybe you’re right about the difficulty not being worth the effort, but it does strike me as a little “broken” when the intended direct Representatives of the people have wildly different-sized constituencies.

  • Horrible idea. Any notion that dilutes a foundation of the country, namely that the states created the federal government, is wrong-headed. Congressional seats are state-based and should remain so. Likewise with electoral votes.

    • I don’t see how this “dilutes the foundation of the country”. Representatives are supposed to represent the people directly, not states.

  • picking and choosing bits from several of the comments and replies in this thread:

    Bryan wrote: “And I don’t see why “The people of each state are represented by their House representives as citizens of each state” necessarily. Can you think of a constitutional principle that is violated by this solution?”

    and also “Representatives are supposed to represent the people directly, not states.”

    No, that last statement is not true. Representatives are supposed to represent people directly, but only AS Citizens of their Respective States.

    This is what is meant by the Article 1, Sec. 2 clause “Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers,…”

    Constitutional Law can be quite picky at times, and specific wording has very specific meanings. In this case, anytime the words “The Several States” are used, it is interpreted to mean the States as Sovereign and Independant sources of authority separate from the Federal level of authority. It is not idle language. For this clause to be given the meaning you are giving to it, any reference to “The Several States” would have to be deleted and instead the wording would have to say “the citizens of the United States.” But the phrase “Several States” indicates that this was not the original intent. (Btw, I am not just making that up; this is one of the canons of Constitutional Law interpretation)

    This is also one of the foundations of Federalism; the idea that Citizens relate to the Federal Government *As Citizens of their Respective States*. That’s why your proposal would be a death blow to Constitutional Federalism.

    Also, you have not considered the fact that this would wreak absolute havoc with the electoral college. Electors are designated by state, a states electoral votes being equivalent to the total amount of it’s senators and representatives. There is *No* provision for granting a state fractional electoral votes; and yet if you were to introduce that by amendment, then you have to face the issue that your plan would be stripping away the influence that small states have on Presidential elections. For example, both North and South Dakota, rather than having 3 electoral votes, would only have about 2.4 (I haven’t worked out the exact numbers) Also, in case of an electoral deadlock, the election is decided in the House of Representatives on a strict State by State vote, with only 1 vote allowed per state, with each state deciding its vote by a majority vote of it’s own representatives. Yes, it’s an odd little known and little used clause, but allowing representatives to have districts across state lines completely invalidates this system because those reps would now have 2 votes in the process instead of one, and that is a huge constitutional problem. On the other hand, giving them a fractional vote inside the delegation guarantees that their vote counts less than anyone else’s in that particular state delegation and is thus worthless, which is a separate constitutional problem. There is no way to resolve this conflict without completely reforming the Electoral College system.

    And many may want to do that – but they do not understand that they are seeking to undo the Great Compromise of 1787 that is built into the fabric of the Constitution, and which was the fundamental agreement which made the Constitution possible in the first place. In essence, the small states agreed to a system in which they would be economically dominated by the large states in exchange for a system in which they would always be guaranteed far more political influence than their size alone would warrant. Small states are blatantly favored in the Senate, given a slight edge in the House through the districting provisions we’ve been discussing, and through those two are given much more weight in Presidential elections then their size would seem to warrant.

    From the very beginning the big states weren’t happy about this – all of the arguments against the Electoral College were made by the New York delegation in 1787. (The arguments haven’t changed one bit in 222 years, which is fascinating) The big states *Always* wanted Direct Election of the President – it is the small states that said “No”! In 1787 the large states decided that it was worth giving up some political influence in exchange for having a unified country, and we have lived with the consequences ever since.

    *This* is why 3/4 of the state legislatures have to agree to any Constitutional Amendment – the system is rigged so that the large, economically powerful states can *never* force through major systemic changes unless they have the explicit approval of the majority of the small states. The small states have *Always* been jealous of their political power, and they always will be.

    For this reason, *No* amendment that threatens to diminish any of the small states political influence will ever be capable of passing. The system is rigged against that, and it has been rigged from the start. Someone mentioned a constitutional convention – that is what woould have to be done, because for this to actually happen the current constitution would have to be thrown out completely and rewritten from scratch.

    But barring that, we’re going to continue with what we’ve got for a long, long time.

    – wws

    P.S. the reason you see people advocating increasing the number of congressmen to unworkably huge sizes is because that is the *only* way to address the equal representation problem within the confines of our current constitution. Since no one likes that idea and it would be very unwieldy, I imagine we will continue to ignore the problem for at least the rest of the lives of anyone reading this.

    • This is also one of the foundations of Federalism; the idea that Citizens relate to the Federal Government *As Citizens of their Respective States*. That’s why your proposal would be a death blow to Constitutional Federalism.

      I just don’t see how this one change would be used to unravel every other federalist provision in the Constitution. You’ll have to describe the mechanism by which an amendment allowing districts to cross state lines would do such a thing.

      Also, you have not considered the fact that this would wreak absolute havoc with the electoral college.

      I explicitly considered it in the comments above.

      Electors are designated by state, a states electoral votes being equivalent to the total amount of it’s senators and representatives. There is *No* provision for granting a state fractional electoral votes; and yet if you were to introduce that by amendment,

      Pause right there. I didn’t suggest fractional electoral votes. I suggested that each state keep its 2 base electoral votes, along with any electors representing districts that don’t straddle a border, and suggested that any district that straddles a border would vote independently.

      then you have to face the issue that your plan would be stripping away the influence that small states have on Presidential elections.

      No. As I illustrated in my earlier comments, small states can gain or lose from this system.

      For example, both North and South Dakota, rather than having 3 electoral votes, would only have about 2.4 (I haven’t worked out the exact numbers)

      No. The average district in the US would be about 700k people. Only 4 states are smaller than that, and only one (Wyoming) is significantly smaller.

      North Dakota’s population is over 641k, meaning it’s not much smaller than an average district (and thus could be in the range for being one full district), and South Dakota is bigger than the average. If anything, South Dakota stands to gain a little more representation in the House.

      Also, in case of an electoral deadlock, the election is decided in the House of Representatives on a strict State by State vote, with only 1 vote allowed per state, with each state deciding its vote by a majority vote of it’s own representatives. Yes, it’s an odd little known and little used clause, but allowing representatives to have districts across state lines completely invalidates this system because those reps would now have 2 votes in the process instead of one, and that is a huge constitutional problem. On the other hand, giving them a fractional vote inside the delegation guarantees that their vote counts less than anyone else’s in that particular state delegation and is thus worthless, which is a separate constitutional problem. There is no way to resolve this conflict without completely reforming the Electoral College system.

      Wait, how would (using your example) a fractional vote within a delegation be worthless? A full vote can tie things up or break a tie, but a fractional vote could only break a tie. That’s still valuable, and seems perfectly just to me.

      For this reason, *No* amendment that threatens to diminish any of the small states political influence will ever be capable of passing.

      You must not have read my comment above where I wrote out how small states could gain from this system.

  • Congressmen should be appointed by the distribution of lat names in the phone book. Distribute an even number of names to each congressman. Prince would be screwed but there would be no more Murtha airports.

michael kors outlet michael kors handbags outlet michael kors factory outlet