Gerrymandering within individual states in America is a problem that is always being looked at and scrutinized. Gerrymandering is manipulation of boundaries of districts in order to favor one political party in elections. Political parties look at gerrymandering as a way to wrap up votes and keep their districts representing the party they want. While gerrymandering is a problem, it is being talked about substantially and that is shedding light on it and allowing ideas to flow on how to stop it. However, a problem that is not talked about as much as gerrymandering within states is the imbalance in representation in Congress that exists between states. The disparity of congressional representatives for each state is severely imbalanced, an example of the imbalance is two states, separated by more than five hundred thousand people in populations, having the same number of representatives in Congress. They both have two senators, but in the House of Representatives, which allots members of Congress to represent states based on population, both states have one congressional representative, even though the population disparity is vast. Not only is there an imbalance in representation between states, there are also United States territories without representation, for example: Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. The fact that the nation’s capital and a territory with more than three million United States citizens do not have representation in Congress should not be a problem that America faces.
California has the most representatives in Congress with fifty-three, while Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Montana have only one representative. Although those five states combined still have thirty-five million less citizens than California, Georgia has more than two hundred thousand citizens than North Carolina, which is less than the five hundred thousand citizen disparity in Montana and Wyoming, yet Georgia has one more representative than North Carolina, while Montana and Wyoming each have one representative in Congress. This is unfair to states like Montana because it could have one more representative in Congress to help pass its personal legislature, but instead Georgia has an extra even though it has a narrower gap in population difference with the next state. Providing United States citizens with this kind of information is crucial because it fuels debate in unfairness of the situation which allows Congress to debate it and potentially reach a solution. A solution that could have been as simple as providing a quota. Population ranges could have been set and if a state’s population was between that range they would receive the same amount of representatives. However, since that would cause imbalance to the system already in place, Congress could subtract a few members from each state with a positive disparity and add them to the states with less representation. Less members for the bigger states and more for the smaller states, kept at a respectable amount that keeps the bigger states with more members in Congress, would help the imbalance in Congress. Smaller states would have more say, but bigger states will still have more power and the disparity in members is reduced.
A reason that an informed public is important is because they are the voice of the country and if they sparking up debate about an issue constantly, then that will force the representatives in Congress to listen. All it takes for Congress to create change is one leader that is attached to the people in his or her district that is willing to let their voices be heard. That representative or group of representatives that propose the bill and fight for it, could allow for the balance of members between states. In 1963 the 18th Census changed the number of members in Congress from four hundred and thirty-seven back to four hundred and thirty-five. This happened because in 1959 Alaska and Hawaii caused the number of representatives to increase and proves it is possible to have fluctuations in the members of the House of Representatives. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was not thought to have a good chance of passing at first, but as more representatives talked due to the controversial stir by the public, the bill was passed. A more informed public and more motivated representatives will help the issue of imbalance in congressional representation between states.
In 1959, Alaska and Hawaii were admitted into America as states, this is a relevant piece of information because it proves states can be added and Congress can adapt to it. Washington D.C. is the capital of the United States and has more than six hundred thousand residents which is more than Vermont and Wyoming, yet it has no congressional representation. Puerto Rico was acquired as a territory of the United States in 1898 and in 1917 the Jones-Shafroth Act was passed which granted United States citizenship to all residents of Puerto Rico. Puerto Rican’s can vote in primary elections and pay federal taxes to the United States, but it still has no representation in Congress. It is a country being asked to contribute to America in exchange for a minimal voice in American policies. Adding members of Congress for Puerto Rico would help include those citizens who work hard to benefit the United States and stop an imbalance in representation.
The imbalance between states in congressional representation is a problem that is not being debated enough. A more informed public and more determined representatives will help this problem become discussed and acted upon in a way to positively effect states and territories misrepresented. States with big disparities in populations can have that gap narrowed and Washington D.C., as well as Puerto Rico, which is an asset to the United States. There has been a shake up in the House of Representatives before and it has proven it can adapt.