Editor’s Note: This is one in a series examining the Constitution and Federalist Papers in America today.

You may have missed it, but a recent report by the Census Bureau revealed that the bureau made significant errors in the most recent census, overstating the population of eight states and understating the population of six states. As a result, states with fewer states, such as Florida, do not receive all the congressional representation they deserve, while states such as Minnesota and Rhode Island are overrepresented in Congress.

As everyone who filled out a census form in 2020 knows, we were meeting the Article I requirement, Section 2 of the US Constitution which mandates a “true enumeration” of the US population every 10 years. The year 2020 was the 24th census in our history.

Although population data is used for many different statistical purposes, including the distribution of federal funds under programs that provide money to states based on their share of the U.S. population, its constitutional purpose is to Representation is to be distributed among representatives. It also affects presidential elections, as apportionment determines how many votes a state has in the Electoral College. Under Article II, Section 1, the number of electors for each state is the number of representatives plus two U.S. senators.

Generally, if a state has, for example, 10% of the total population, it is entitled to 10% of the representatives in the House. This is not always the case, however, because of another clause in Section 2 of Article I which provides that “each state shall have at least one representative.”

This, of course, may affect the distribution for other states.

As our nation has grown and added more states to the Union, the House has added more members. However, in 1929, Congress passed the Permanent Apportionment Act, which size 435 members of the House. After the 2020 census numbers were determined, these 435 members were divided into states based on the country’s total population (a little over 331 million).

They Report again It gave additional seats to six states and reduced the number of seats in seven states. Texas gained two representatives, while California and New York lost one congressional seat each. As noted earlier, however, the Census Bureau made significant errors and left citizens in eight states without adequate representation in Congress.

Another pathology associated with the distribution is that it is based on the total population that includes non-citizens, including illegal aliens. In a nation where the population of both legal and illegal aliens now numbers in the millions, the sheer volume distorts congressional representation.

How bad is this distortion? In 2015, the Congressional Research Service released a Reports On how the distribution would have changed after the 2010 census if the 2013 estimated urban population had been used, excluding legal and illegal aliens here. According to the report, using citizen population would have moved seven congressional seats in just 11 states. California, for example, would lose four seats, while states like Louisiana and Missouri would each gain one new seat.

Adding alien populations to unfairly and unfairly apportionment alters political representation in the House and devalues ​​citizens’ votes.

Some argue that the language in section 2 that the apportionment is based on “the number of persons in each state” means that aliens must be included in the apportionment calculation. However, the term “IndividualsHistorically, this context has been defined as an individual who has not only a physical presence but also an element of loyalty to a particular place. This is why the Census Bureau, for example, does not count noncitizens who visit the U.S. for vacation or business because they have no political or legal allegiance to a state or federal government. do not have.

The U.S. Supreme Court has never ruled on the question of whether aliens must be included in the distribution under our Constitution.

Hans A. von Spakowski is a senior legal fellow and manager of the Election Law Reform Initiative at The Heritage Foundation and a former attorney for the Department of Justice and commissioner of the Federal Election Commission. she is Co-author “Our Broken Elections: How the Left Changed the Way You Vote.”

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