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Since 1790, Massachusetts has had between 9 and 20 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. After the 1990 Census, Massachusetts lost one of its 11 seats. After retaining its 10 seats following the 2000 Census, Massachusetts lost one seat following the 2010 census resulting in 9 total seats.

The following table is a history of the number of Massachusetts seats in the House of Representatives after each census year.

Year of census

Total congressional seats

+/- previous census




1990, 2000






1960, 1970



1940, 1950
















































Visit Geographical History of the 7th District for more information on how redistricting has changed the boundaries of the district.

Congressional Apportionment

What is congressional apportionment?

"Apportionment" is the process of dividing the 435 memberships, or seats, in the House of Representatives among the 50 states. The Census Bureau conducts the census every 10 years for purposes of apportionment. Population totals are then used to calculate the distribution of House membership seats. States, cities and towns also rely on the census to redraw state house seats, city council seats, and the geographic boundaries of various elected positions. Additionally, census numbers are used as formulas for distributing federal funds.

Why is it done?

The provision for conducting a census every ten years is found within the U.S. Constitution. Article I, Section 2 (as amended by Amendment XIV, Section 2) reads:

"Representatives...shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective numbers...The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct."

Contemporary guidelines about the decennial census are found in Title 13, U.S. Code (1976). The basic purpose of all these provisions is to ensure the "one person = one vote" tenet of our laws.

How often does it happen?

Thomas Jefferson, who was Secretary of State at the time, directed the first decennial census in 1790. Since then, the census has been taken in each year ending in the zero digit. The most recent enumeration was in the year 2010.

Who gets counted?

Apportionment is based upon the total resident population (both citizens and non-citizens). College students are asked to list their home address as the residence where they live for 6 months or more, so they should be counted at their college address for the census.

In Census 2000 and the 2010 Census that followed, the apportionment population also included U.S. Armed Forces personnel, federal civilian employees posted overseas, and their families stationed outside the U.S.  The Census Bureau determines the home addresses for people falling in these categories based on "administrative records" -- i.e., what was the last home address in the U.S. before the posting overseas.  The population of the District of Columbia is not included in the apportionment population, but people are counted for purposes of federal funding.

How is apportionment calculated?

The Constitution provides that each state will have a minimum of one member in the House of Representatives. The apportionment calculation for most recent census will divide the remaining 385 seats among the 50 states. Congress decides the method used to calculate the apportionment. In 1911, Congress enacted U.S. Statutes at Large, 37 Stat 13, 14 which set the current size of the House at 435 seats. Thus, it would require an act of Congress to change the number of House seats.

Every state in the union is guaranteed one seat in the House of Representatives. Presently (2010), there are 7 states with populations that are not large enough to demand more than one representative in the House. Yet these states like all others are guaranteed two seats in the U.S. Senate.

Delivering the numbers

Title 13, U.S. Code requires that the apportionment population counts be delivered to the President within nine months of the census date. In Census 2010, the census date was April 1, 2010, and the President received the counts by December 31, 2010.

According to Title 2, U.S. Code, within one week of the opening of the next session of Congress, the President must report to the Clerk of the House of Representatives the apportionment population counts for each state and the number of Representatives to which each state is entitled. Within 15 days, the Clerk of the House must inform each State Governor of the number of Representatives to which each state is entitled.

The legislatures in each state are then responsible for geographically defining the boundaries of their congressional and other election districts. This process is known as REDISTRICTING.

Census 2010

According to the 2010 Census, one state — Michigan — lost population. That state, and those like Massachusetts whose population grew at a relatively slower rate than other states, will lose seats in the House as a result. Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania are losing one seat each, while Ohio and New York are losing 2 seats each.

At the same time, there are 8 states gaining seats. Texas gains 4 seats, Florida gains 2 while, Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and South Carolina, Utah, and Washington gain one seat each.

For more information on Congressional Apportionment, please visit the following websites.

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