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RICO Redistricting Program

March 6, 2011

How Redistricting Works

The US House of Representatives has 435 voting members. The number of representatives for each state is proportional to its population. California, the most populous state, currently has 53 House Representatives in the 110th Congress, one elected from each of the state’s 53 legislative districts. Supreme Court rulings in the 1960s established that legislative districts must be of equal population.

Therefore, after the Census every 10 years, states are required to redistrict, or to redraw electoral district lines, to maintain population equality. Faster growing states may see an increase in their share of representatives in the House, while states with shrinking or stagnant populations may lose representatives.

Advances in computing and mathematics have enabled computer-enhanced gerrymandering in many states. The resulting districts, while equal in number of people, favor those in power over challengers in ways never before possible.

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