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Which State Has the Most Representatives and Why

Which State Has the Most Representatives and Why

In the U.S., national representatives are divided into two groups, the Senate and the House of Representatives. The House of Representatives is meant to represent the people, not the state, while the Senate represents the states on an equal basis. This was an agreement implemented by the Great Compromise in 1787. This means that the House has a system which determines which state has the most representatives and which state or states have the least.

Two senators are elected from each state to serve in the Senate, a part of the legislative branch of the government known as Congress. This is a fixed number implemented by the United States Constitution (article 1, section 3, clause 1). There are never more than 100 senators serving in Congress at a time.

However, the House of Representatives, the other half of Congress, works a little differently. While representatives, also known as congressmen and congresswomen, are still elected, the system is based on population. This determines which state has the most representatives. Therefore, larger states with a bigger population will have the most representatives, versus smaller states with lower populations. Each member of the House represents a set number of constituents.

The House never has more than 435 representatives serving in Congress at a time. Each state is guaranteed at least one representative in the House. This law has been in effect since 1913 and is enforced by Public Law 62-5.

The House and the Senate assemble in Washington D.C. at least once a year. These meetings are called sessions and begin at noon on January 3 of each odd-numbered year and can last months at a time. A term for any representative is two years and all members of the House are up for reelection at this time. The next election date for representatives is November 6, 2018.

As of 2017, California has the most representatives with 53 and has a population of roughly 40 million. Other states with a large number of representatives are Texas with 36 representatives and a population of 28 million. Florida with a population of 20 million and New York with a population of 19 million have 27 representatives each.

Many states with much lower populations have only one representative. Wyoming with a population of 570,000, Vermont with 230,000, Alaska with 730,000, North Dakota with 750,000, South Dakota with 860,000, Delaware with 960,000 and Montana with just over one million all have just a single representative.

Congress, which includes both the Senate and the House of Representatives, is the legislative branch of the government and essentially in charge of making the nation’s laws.

Each of the 435 representatives is elected. Voting is a constitutional right for Americans. Knowing the history and mechanics of the House of Representatives, as well as which state has the most representatives versus the least, is useful for making an educated decision when voting for representatives.

– Courtney Wallace

Photo: Flickr