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3.2 The Organization of Congress

In 1929, the Congress passed the Reapportionment Act, to ensure that there would not be a repetition of the failure to reapportion representation. It was considered that it things would indeed get out of control if addition of seats to the house was continued based on increase in population. Today, almost 570,000 people are represented by a single congressman.

Exhibit 3.2
Gerrymandering

3.2a Congressional Districts

Based on a federal census taken every ten years, the necessary adjustments in the congressional districts are brought about. This procedure is called reapportionment. These congressional districts are framed by the state legislatures. The practice of gerrymandering often interfered with the power of the state legislature in their task of arranging the geographic districts to be used in electing representatives. By gerrymandering (from Governor Elbridge ’Gerry’ who approved the bill), the party in control of the state legislature could arrange the districts to its advantage. It did so by laying out the districts in such a way that the opposition could not elect a congressman in any of them, though it was uniformly strong in all the districts.


No comprehensive legislation was passed by the Congress regarding the division of states into congressional districts. However, the reapportionment acts from 1842 to 1929 laid some restraints against gerrymandering. Under a reapportionment, a state receiving an increase in representation can elect its additional representatives from the state at large. At the same time, a state having a decrease in representation may elect all its representatives at large, until the formation of new districts. Recently, states in the West and Southwest saw an increase in their representation in the House. However states in the Northeast witnessed a decrease.

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Index

3.0 Introduction
3.1 Powers of Congress

3.2 The Organization of Congress
3.3 How a Bill becomes a Law

Chapter 4





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