I was reading this article the other day about whether the House of Representatives should be expanded based on the disparity if how many people each congressperson actually represents. I won’t summarize the whole article here, but the gist of it was that the congresspeople from Rhode Island represent approximately 530,000 people each, while the congressman from Montana represents over 950,000. That means that the 1.05 million people in Rhode Island have two votes in the house, while the .95 million people in Montana have one.
My first gut-level response to all of this was that the current system doesn’t seem fair. The 400,000 person disparity is just too large and it is possibly unconstitutional as well. I won’t go into detail on that issue here, but feel free to comment about it (and for some background on the issue, here’s a link to the Supreme Court’s decision in Baker v. Carr ). But then I read on in the article for an estimate of how large the house would have to be in order to make things more “fair”–the answer was between 932-1761! Woh. The number 435 seems pretty arbitrary to me, but the thought of two times as many representatives on Capitol Hill just makes my head spin.
Even after reading the whole article and thinking about it for a few days, I still don’t really know what to think, and I’m curious about other people’s thoughts–especially those of you who have worked on the Hill and seen the way the House works. It seems to me that doubling the number of representatives can only make it harder to get things done in the House. On the other hand, it would make voting districts smaller, which means the representatives would (in theory) have to raise less money and would be more accountable to their constituents. It also might make them less likely to follow the party line and tailor their votes to their home district’s needs/wants instead.
Forgetting about the logistical problems of fitting 1000 representatives into the Capitol, do you think expanding the House would lead to better or worse government?