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The Constitution (and the 14th amendment) specify Representatives are "apportioned among the several States", but it explicitly provide no direction for how they are to be chosen. All the states I'm aware of which are large enough to have more than one Representative divide themselves up into congressional districts, with one representative elected by each district.

First of all, are there any states which elect some or all of their Representatives in an "at large" manner? If not, has it been tried in the past and changed? Or, alternatively, is there a federal law requiring this method?

  • Sorry, but what does at-large exactly mean? From the question I understand that it means making each state a single voting district, but the existing answer seems to imply that it would also mean that all the Representatives are awarded to the most voted party, without proportionality. Is that correct? The definitions that I find online do not give such detail. – SJuan76 Aug 23 '16 at 23:28
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    @SJuan76 - In this context, it's "Everyone in the state directly votes for all Representatives". Whether that means that there's a series of individual races, everyone in a pool with the top X winners, everyone can vote for up to X, or some other method of determining representation isn't something I considered when asking the question. I've seen all the above on more localized ballots. – Bobson Aug 23 '16 at 23:31
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With the exception of states with only one representative, this does not currently happen. As a general rule, it cannot happen unless Congress changes federal law. The Constitution grants Congress the power to make or modify regulations regarding the time, place, and manner of congressional elections, and Congress has done so. They have passed a law (2 USC 2c) requiring states to divide up their state into districts and elect one member per district.

There is, however, a possible way a state could get at-large representatives without another act of Congress. A different and older law (2 USC 2a) goes into more detail about redistricting, including what happens if states don't redistrict into a number of districts equal to the number of representatives:

  • If the number stayed the same, the state keeps electing from the districts it was already using (and any at-large representatives stay at-large)
  • If the number of representatives increased, all the new representatives are elected at large (and the old ones keep their districts or at-large status)
  • If the number decreased, but there are still fewer districts than representatives, there's one representative per district and the remaining members are elected at-large
  • If the number decreased and there are now fewer representatives than districts, then all representatives are elected at-large.

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