How people elect parliaments
The House of Representatives is an assembly of 435 members. Seats are divided among the 50 States of the Union using the Huntington-Hill modified divisor method, with a minimum seat rule requiring at least one seat for each State.
(A further 5 non-voting members (termed ‘delegates’) are also elected to represent five non-state territories, including the federal capital territory of the District of Columbia, containing the city of Washington. These delegates are not dealt with in the discussion given below.)
Members are directly elected in the 435 single member divisions (‘districts’) by three different voting methods, as follows:
Redistribution of seats among the States and reviews of district boundaries are conducted after the national census held every 10 years, the most recent being the Census of 2011.
Reviews of district boundaries (‘redistricting’) are administered by State governments and/or legislatures. Concentration distortion has historically been extensive in many States, and is made worse by redistricting often being gerrymandered by partisan legislators and officials.
Redistricting that took place during 2011-12 was significantly marred by gerrymandering. Across the 50 states control of the process was in the hands of different classes of decision-makers:
The dominant position of Republican partisans in the 2011-12 redistricting round appears to have led to a clear Republican advantage in gerrymander-driven concentration distortion of election results. The impact of these boundaries can be estimated to have assisted in generating around 22 additional Republican district wins in the 2012 elections.
Terms of office for all House members are two years.
Post: Gerrymandering still rife in US Congressional districts (6 November 2016)
Half-way review of the presidential primaries (March 2016)
The crucial voters don’t choose the presidential nominees (January 2016)
A brief history of presidential primaries (January 2016)
Preview of the 2016 presidential primaries (January 2016)
Preview of the United States elections of November 2016 (January 2016)
Inequality of the 2012 US House of Representatives district boundary changes (January 2016)
The US House of Representative could be more representative (January 2016)
Critical analysis of the US electoral system (January 2016)
Inequality in the effective influence of voters caused by variations in House of Representatives district enrolments has not been analysed, as district registration figures are not generally available.
Freedom of nomination is restricted in the United States. The regulations are controlled separately by state legislation in each of the 50 states. Nominees of the Democratic and Republican parties are generally unconstrained, although party primaries will be held to select one official nominee for each party (other than in Louisiana, where multiple party nominees may run). However in many states the nomination of other candidates is hindered by ‘ballot access’ laws which require extensive pre-nomination signature collections and/or high payments.
In addition, in California and Washington states only two candidates may nominate for the general election, these being the two plurality leaders of an official primary election held several weeks earlier, at which turnouts are often low.
[summary of results]
Inequality in the effective influence of voters caused by variations in House district turnouts (formal votes) has been significant in recent elections. Inequality is generally higher at mid-term elections (those not featuring the election of the President, where voter turnout is around 40% of registrations), that in Presidential election years (where turnout is around 60%).
The standard deviation of variations compared to the mean enrolment was 23.2% in 2000, 21.8% in 2004, 20.8% in 2008, and 20.8% in 2012.
For the mid-term elections in this period, the standard deviation was 26.3% in 2002, 28.4% in 2006 and 24.4% in 2010,
[inequality by margins]
2000 – 2002 – 2004 – 2006 – 2008 – 2010 – 2012 – 2014 – 2016
All US elections are actually administered at the state and territory level, mainly by executive officials titled the Secretary of State in each jurisdiction.
However for all US-level elections (President, House and Senate) data on final election results is collated early in the year following each election by the Clerk of the House of Representatives and published online. These statistical publications therefore form a compact and authoritative source. However more localised data, and data on primary elections, must be sourced from each state’s electoral authorities. In the United states a substantial industry exists for the collation of electoral data, much of which is not available free of change.
Data on populations of eligible voters and registrations is not publicly available in a consistent manner. The most comprehensive non-commercial online source is probably that of the United States Elections Project, maintained by Dr Michael McDonald, currently at the University of Florida.
[data completeness – anomalous contests – augmentation]
[Datasets are not yet published]
This dataset covers all general elections from 2000 to 2016 for:
The House district boundaries for these elections fall into three phases based on decennial reviews:
The dataset contains the following data for each electoral division:
The information which can be derived from the above data includes the following: