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Q: State Legislatures ( Answered,   1 Comment )
Subject: State Legislatures
Category: Relationships and Society > Politics
Asked by: mongolia-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 10 Nov 2004 11:39 PST
Expires: 10 Dec 2004 11:39 PST
Question ID: 427203
In the United States ,for each state what is the general process of electing
the state representatives?
How many representatives are there, how often are they elected and
what method of voting is used to elect them?
I am not looking for a detailed state by state answer, rather the
general process among different states(which I assume to broadly
Regarding the number of State representatives, an average number or
typical will suffice. If the number of elected representatives is
linked to the
population of the state, then I would be interested in ratio of the
population to the number of state representatives.
Subject: Re: State Legislatures
Answered By: kriswrite-ga on 10 Nov 2004 12:35 PST
Hello mongolia~

In the United States, the 435 members of the House of Representatives
serve a two-year term. (Elections for Representatives are held every
two years.)

The U.S. Constitution requires at least one Representative per state.
Beyond that, the number of representatives per state is determined by
population, based upon a census taken each decade.

The process of determining how many Reps each state may have is called

The method of apportionment has changed throughout U.S. History.
According to The U.S. Census Bureau, ?The methods used through most of
this century have been based upon the use of a mathematically
determined priority listing of states...calculated by dividing the
population of each state by the geometric mean of its current and next
seats--that assigns seats 51 through 435. This will be the method used
in Census 2000, according to provisions of Title 2, U.S. Code.?
(?Congressional Apportionment--How it's Calculated,? U.S. Census

For a more technical description of how apportionments may be
calculated, see ?Computing Apportionment? at the U.S. Census Bureau:

To see a list of population vs. House seats, check out Census 2000
Ranking of Priority Values:

Each state that?s allowed more than one Rep must be divided into
districts. Candidates are assigned to each district, and citizens
living in that district vote on which candidate will become the
official Representative of that district.

Representatives must be at least 25 years old, and they must reside in
whatever state they represent.

If a vacancy occurs in the House in-between elections, a special
election must be held to fill that seat.


I hope this answers your question thoroughly, but if anything is
unclear, please don?t hesitate to request a clarification before
rating this Answer.






Researcher?s personal knowledge

Google Search: "house of representatives" Apportionment

Request for Answer Clarification by mongolia-ga on 10 Nov 2004 12:54 PST

I may have confused you in my original question. My understanding is that as
well as Congress (which is a federal institution and contains the senate and 
house of representatives) each State (as in New York, Texas, California
etc) has it OWN elected Legislature headed up by the State Governer. It is 
these bodies to which i refer and to which my question refers.

Now I may be wrong in this assumption (In which case the state Governer is
the only elected person to reside in the state)

I am more familiar with Canada which has a Federal Parliament in Ottawa
and "Mini Parliaments" for each province.

Hope this clarifies


Clarification of Answer by kriswrite-ga on 10 Nov 2004 13:02 PST

I'm sorry I misunderstood. You are correct; there are state
legislatures. I will get to work on a new Answer.


Clarification of Answer by kriswrite-ga on 10 Nov 2004 13:50 PST
Hi again Mongolia~

This is a much more difficult question, as I imagine you realize. This
reason for this is that each state has it?s own legislative body and
has individual control over how they select their legislature. This
means it?s tough to pin point commonalities between the legislatures
of all states.

Similar to the way the House of Representatives is chosen, state
legislatures are apportioned according to population. (Please see the
information on apportioning in my original answer.)
Additionally, they may be apportioned according to numbers in certain
districts, counties, and/or townships. Some states don?t frequently
conduct a census, and sometimes redistricting doesn?t occur for many
years. Since the 1960s, efforts have been made to remedy this.

Nonetheless, similar to the House of Representatives, state
legislators are assigned to an area of the state whose citizens then
vote them in or out. Typically, the candidate lives in that district.
Most state legislators are elected every two years.

Many states do not have term limits, so that a representative may
serve for as long as citizens will continue to vote them into office.
In recent years, efforts have been made to curtail this, and impose
term limitations.

There really is no way to provide an ?average number? of people
serving in state legislatures. For example, Alabama has 40 districts,
and two legislators per district. Alaska has 40 districts, with one
representative voted in per district. California has 80 districts with
one representative each. Each state is quite different.

Compounding the confusion, some states divide their legislatures into
two bodies, usually called the assembly and senate. California and New
York are two states that arrange their legislative body this way.

I wish I could give you a more solid Answer, but I don?t think that?s
possible. There are just too many variables. Therefore, if you aren?t
satisfied with my second Answer, please let me know.


"state legislatures"
"state legislatures" term* years
state legislatur* serv* years
state legislator* serv* years

Request for Answer Clarification by mongolia-ga on 11 Nov 2004 07:53 PST

I take your point that each state can have rather different set up.
(And you have of course given me partila answers for certain states)

What I would like to suggest is if you can answer my specific questions for
the following 5 states
- Delaware
- Montana
- Nevada
- Maine
- Hawaii



Clarification of Answer by kriswrite-ga on 11 Nov 2004 12:12 PST
Hi Mongolia~

Here is the information you requested. If for any reason it?s unclear,
don?t hesitate to ask for clarification.

How many Reps? Delaware has 41 members in their House of Representatives.
How often are they elected? Every two years.
What method of voting? Electronic voting machine.


How many Reps? Montana?s House of Representatives has 100 members.
How often are they elected?  Every two years. Montana has limits of 8
or more terms in any 16-year period.
What method of voting? Various methods: punch cards, paper, and optical scan.


How many Reps? Nevada has a State Senate and a State Assembly. The
latter is the equivalent of a House of Representatives. There are 42
members of the Assembly.
How often are they elected? Assembly members are elected every two
years, with a term limit of 12 years.
What method of voting? Various: optical scan, electronic, and punch card.


How many Reps? 151 members of the House of Representatives. 
How often are they elected? Every two years. No member may serve more
than four consecutive terms.
What method of voting? Various methods, including paper, punch card,
and electronic.


How many Reps? There are 51 members of the House of Representatives.
How often are they elected? Every two years.
What method of voting? Optical scan.

More information about the various methods of voting may be found at
?A Better Ballot,? The Christian Science Monitor:

Kind regards,

Delaware state legislature
Delaware voting
Montana state legislature 
Montana state legislature "term limits"
Nevada state legislature
Main state legislature
Hawaii state legislature

Request for Answer Clarification by mongolia-ga on 12 Nov 2004 03:37 PST
Hi Kriswrite

Thanks for the update on the 5 states. Just one final request
When I asked for the method of voting (and again I should have made
myself clear) I was actually asking for the method of voting in terms
of straight voting, proportional representation, single transferable
vote etc as opposed to the physical method of voting.



PS the information on the method of voting was very interesting and I
was not aware that  there are now so many ways that one can vote!

Clarification of Answer by kriswrite-ga on 12 Nov 2004 08:43 PST
Hi Mongolia~

I'm glad you found the voting method information interesting, even if
it wasn't exactly what you were looking for :)

In all these states, the state House Reps are chosen via
apportionment. That is, it's based upon popoulation, divided into
districts. (As mentioned in my original answer on the House of
Representatives.) Is this detailed enough, or would like me to try to
dig up specifics on how this is calculated? I'm doubtful that I can
find the exact mathmatical method of apportionment per state, but I
will certainly try, if you wish me to.


Request for Answer Clarification by mongolia-ga on 13 Nov 2004 05:40 PST
Can you explain a littlelbit better what you mean by apportionment?
In straight voting one chooses one candidate from a list of candidates
 where only one candidate can be choosen fro office.
In proportional one choooses one or more candidates from a list of candidates
where two or more candidates can be choosen.


Clarification of Answer by kriswrite-ga on 15 Nov 2004 08:11 PST
Hi Mongolia~

I'm sorry I wasn't perfectly clear.

First, the state is divided up into sections called ?districts.? The
sections are chosen according to population, so that a city might be
one district, but a much larger area in the country might be another
district. This is called ?apportionment.? (In other words,
apportionment deals directly with the math: How many Representatives
should the House have per how many citizens? The methods for deciding
this vary from state to state, but a common method of making this
determination is to divide ?the population of each state by the
geometric mean of its current and next
seats.? (?Congressional Apportionment--How it's Calculated,? U.S. Census
) For a more technical description of how apportionments may be
calculated, see ?Computing Apportionment? at the U.S. Census Bureau,
which specifically looks at apportionment at the Federal level:

The method of election is thus: Candidates are chosen for each
district. (In most cases, they must be residents of the district.)
Ideally, there are at least two candidates per district to choose
from, although sometimes the incumbent runs without opposition.
(Which, incidentally, doesn?t prevent voters from choosing someone
else. Write-in votes are possible, and do sometimes elect a new

I hope that makes better sense :)

Subject: Re: State Legislatures
From: neilzero-ga on 11 Nov 2004 04:45 PST
As kriswrite typed, many of the fifty States pattern the federal with
both a House/Assembly and a Senate, The 80 represenatives in
California each represent about 120,000 registered voters on the
average. This falls to about 40,000 registered voters for some of the
least populous states, which typically have fewer than 80 house
members.   Neil

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