Currently district sizes can be widely disparate. Montana, with a population of 1,042,520, has one Representative in the House. Wyoming, with a population of 586,107, also has one Representative. A district with almost double the population as another has the same level of representation. This means that a voter in Wyoming has more power than a voter in Montana.

One solution would be to introduce weighted voting in the House according to the population size of each district. So a vote from the Montana Rep. would be worth 1,042,520 / total pop. or 0.33%. And a vote from the Wyoming Rep. 586,107 / total pop. or 0.18%. Each Representative's vote would be worth a given weight according to the population level of their district. This would allow mathematical equality among voters, at least as far as the House is concerned.

What would be the pros/cons of having weighted voting in the House of Representatives?

  • 3
    Most states get fairly well balanced in terms of population per representatives due to the way we allocate them. Feb 15 '17 at 17:32

The representation in the House is already weighted. Each state's delegation count is based on their total population. For the few, smallest populated states there will be disparity as they don't meet the minimum threshold, but then the alternative which would make that more perfect would have to be a more flexible total count of Representatives, which would, in turn, lead to a more flexible count of total electoral votes.

They chose, instead, to preserve the current overall numbers in each house, with a minimum allocation of one for all states.


One issue which could come up is "at-large" districts. Currently, US law indicates that at-large districts are only legal for states with 1 house seat. If this law were repealed (it isn't a constitutional amendment; so, this is entirely possible and would be relatively simple) and, say, NY changed one of its district seats to an at-large seat, what would the weight be for such a representative?

One good thing is that I see no need for a constitutional amendment to enact such a proposal thought it would likely need debated in the supreme court as it would almost certainly be challenged. But I see no where in article 1 which addresses that each member has equal voting power.

I've only read the introduction but this article seems to be of interest: https://scholarship.law.ufl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1357&context=flr


Pros of your proposal

  1. Shifts power from a few really small districts to a few larger districts.

  2. Eliminates the advantage of adding an extra district to a state in apportionment.

Cons of your proposal

  1. Requires a constitutional amendment to change, because the current system of equal by district is constitutionally set.

  2. Still weights voters in some states over others. In many districts, there is no opposition candidate, so the primary is dispositive. So only a small number of voters actually choose the winner. Also, population gives voters in districts with many ineligible voters (children, felons, etc.).

  3. Still unfair in that someone with 100,000 votes may outweigh someone with 200,000 votes who lives in a bigger district.

  4. Still allows for unfairness in apportionment. Not at the district level but at the population level. Currently adding population only matters if it changes the district apportionment. This would make small and moderate changes in counting population more important, increasing the chances of politicians doing so.

  5. Apportionment would presumably still change only every ten years. So a previously balanced state could undercount or overcount until the next census.

  6. Mostly increases the power of small states who are already overrepresented by the Senate. While Rhode Island has the smallest congressional district by population, the largest by population is Montana. This is because larger states can divide their districts more evenly.

An alternative

Note that several of the problems revolve around the difficulties of counting people. But you said that you want to increase the power of voters. So why not do that directly? There are two changes that would vastly increase the influence of voters.

  1. Weight representation by voter instead of by population. We count voters at every election.

  2. If there are N districts in a state, take the top N vote getters and make them Representatives.

This has several advantages:

  1. Eliminates gerrymandering as a concept.

  2. Makes the census counting unimportant in terms of representation.

  3. Encourages people to vote, even if their favorite candidate is an overwhelming favorite.

  4. Weights each voter who chooses a winning candidate the same.

Now, the last one might suggest a weakness. What if there are only three Representatives and I vote for the one who is fourth? To fix that, I would make the ballots ranked. So I might rank the candidates Libertarian, Constitution, Republican, Democrat, and Green. If the Libertarian and Constitution candidates don't make it, my vote would roll down to the Republican as my first choice among the actual winners. Then my vote is never wasted.

Note that we can do some of that with just legal changes and not a constitutional amendment. Proportional representation with some variant of Single Transferable Vote, possibly one of the Condorcet-compliant versions, is just changing the law. So that change can be made on its own first. Later the constitution could be amended to distribute representation by number of voters rather than evenly among districts.

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