Optimizing the House of Representatives

The other day I read an op-ed piece in the NY Times that was discussing the sizing for the US House of Representatives. I’m not really here to discuss the politics of resizing the House of Representative nor what happens within their chamber. There are many ways OR could help the House, but here we will discuss ideas for ways to optimize the size of the House and the districts that make it up.

The first step is to find the optimal number of seats to have in the House. There is only an upper bound set in the Constitution, no more than 1 for every 30,000 citizens. This gives any algorithm built to find the optimal size of the House a lot of freedom. We could look at statistical analysis to find what size groups work together best or look for the number of citizens a member should represent such that each individual’s vote is more meaningful and special interests would have less sway on the House.

The second step is to build the optimal districts, and I mean in the sense that districts are evenly represented across the state, not optimal in a political advantage sense. We could build a model that found the optimal districts for voting equality so that more districts are in play which would force the representatives to be held accountable for their voting practices. There would obviously be constraints on the lower and upper bound for constituents in each district and the districts would need to be contiguous. We could even break down each state into very small grids (like a city block) and use that as the base so that the districts would have to be regularly shaped (i.e. would need to be fairly square shaped) as to avoid any appearance of gerrymandering, using the properties of the population in each grid to satisfy our constraints on constituent makeup.

These are just a few potential ways OR could help improve the US House of Representatives, leave your comments below on any other (non-political) ways OR could help.

This blog post is a contribution to INFORMS’ monthly blog challenge. INFORMS will summarize the participating blogs at the end of the month.

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