Expand the House?By PETER BAKER . . Published: September 18, 2009The number of people represented by a single congressman can vary widely. A lawsuit plans to challenge the system.
In theory, every member of the House represents roughly the same number of people. But … the number of people represented by a single congressman can vary widely.
The most populous district in America right now, according to the latest Census data, is Nevada’s 3rd District, where 960,000 people are represented in the House by just one member. All of Montana’s 958,000 people likewise have just one vote in the House. By contrast, 523,000 in Wyoming get the same voting power, as do the 527,000 in one of Rhode Island’s two districts and the 531,000 in the other.
That 400,000-person disparity between top and bottom has generated a federal court challenge that is set to be filed Thursday in Mississippi, charging that the system effectively disenfranchises people in certain states.
While the big government guys will have a field day with this idea, the premise is hard to argue: Americans are entitled to equitable representation. The citizen-to-vote ratio is nowhere near equal. However, Congress has ignored this problem for years, and it’s doubtful they’ll do anything about it this time.
“… [T]he idea would certainly be resisted by incumbents who jealously guard their authority. “It dilutes your own power,” said Norman J. Ornstein, a congressional scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.