I was curious to look back at past Presidential General Elections to see how the States’ electoral votes were dispersed starting with Reagan (1980) per this link. I noticed that California only had 45 electoral votes in 1980 as opposed to 55 of today. Yet, the map still shows “270 to Win” in the margin. I did not perform a state by state analysis of each state’s delta; regardless, this makes no sense in the big picture.

At first, you would say the explanation is simple enough. Obviously, an increase in CA population since 1980 necessitates an increase in CA’s total electoral votes. But, the electoral votes awarded per state is directly related to the total number of Congressional representatives (House and Senate). Additionally, a Constitutional Amendment passed long ago fixed the number of Congressmen to keep the House from busting at the seams. As such, it has stood over the decades (if not centuries) that one Congressmen simply represents more and more individuals as population grows - holding the total number of Congressmen constant…with US Senators set in stone at 2 per state.

So, if the above is all correct, how did CA’s total electoral votes go from 45 in 1980 to 55 today?

Plus, each state has a minimum number of electoral votes that they can’t go below no matter how small the population gets. So in Wyoming, North Dakota, or Vermont, one electoral vote represents fewer actual voters than an electoral vote in New York, California or Florida.

That means small-state voters have more valuable votes; but winning the state is less of a prize.

It doesn’t even have to decrease. With an increased national population, there are more voters per congress-critter. They may lose representatives at a census even if their population remains stable or grows slower than the national average. Only a few states actually shrink at most censuses.

You’ll note that we have two more states with one congressional seat (3 electoral votes) than we did in 1980. MT and SD used to have two.

To back to the 1980 and 2012 maps and do a side-by-side comparison of the two maps. The western states tended to gain in population relative to the midwest and eastern states (with certain exceptions). So the states that gained in population gained more House representative seats during each Census while other states lost House seats, and hence each state’s EV count changed over time.

Not sure why that would be a mystery. CA as of 2010 had 12% of the US population and 12% of the Representatives. In 1980, it had 10.4% of the population and so 45 Reps. Due to every state having at least 1 Rep, the math isn’t guaranteed to work out perfectly like that, but since it does, it would seem to be no problem.

At the same time that California gained those 10 seats in the House of Representatives, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusettes, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Washington and Wisconsin all lost one or more seats, and therefore, votes in the electoral college.

The number of seats in the House is set by an ordinary statute, not a constitutional amendment. The number of seats has been set at 435 since 1911, except for brief periods after New Mexico, Arizona, Alaska and Hawaii were admitted to the Union. The number might increase or even decrease if the law is every changed.

The number of members of the electoral college has been 538 since the 23d Amendment came into force (starting with the 1964 election) which gave the District of Columbia 3 votes. DC’s 3 votes did not come at the expense of any of the states but were in addition to the states’ 535. In theory, DC could get more than 3 votes in a future election if its population increases enough. It is entitled to as many votes as it would get if it were a state.

It’s interesting to do the math where we consider the smallest state’s population as “earning” it one House rep and hence one EV, then applying that same headcount to all the states then see how big a House and EC we end up with.

Wyoming has the least: 586,000 residents. So that’s what it takes to “earn” one EV. At the other end of the scale, CA has 39,150,000 residents and “earns” 67 reps/EVs, a dozen more than it has today.

Going from here: Demographics of the United States - Wikipedia we have a total population of 324,707,000 folks. At 1 rep per 586,000 there “should be” a total of 554 reps. Vice the 435 we really have.

That data’s not all as of the same date, and I’m ignoring rounding, non-citizen residents, etc. But ballpark we see we’re about 120 reps or 1/4th short of the “correct” number to give equal representation to the populations of the big states vs. the small states.

Couple that with each state having two senators regardless of size and we see the small-population states have vastly greater voting power than do the large-population states.
I don’t know that it rises to the level of broke enough to fix. Nor can I imagine a political process short of a revolution that could accomplish it. But it’s interesting to noodle about.

Not quite; DC is not allowed more electoral votes than “the least populous state.” DC gets 4 votes only if every state gets 4, which is almost impossible as it would mean every state would have at least 2 Representatives in the House.

And the one remaining unratified amendment from the 12 in the Bill of Rights would have set a cap on the size of the House of Representatives, but, IIRC, the cap was “one per 50,000 population,” so, assuming 350 million people in the USA, the cap would be 7000.

And that’s just it - California has more electoral votes because it has more Representatives. California has more Representatives because people have been moving there from other states.

IIRC, Representatives are allocated after each census as follows:

Each state starts with 1.

Divide each state’s population by the number of Representatives already allocated to it (it might be the number + 1); whichever state has the highest result gets another one.

Indeed; the equal representation of states in the Senate was held as so important by the Founding Fathers that it’s specifically exempted from the amendment process. So even with a strong nationwide consensus, we couldn’t do it without a revolution.

When the last few states were added, there were supernumerary Representatives and Electoral Votes only temporarily until the next Census reapportionment.

One could imagine if a new state with significant population were admitted, e.g. PR which by Census 2010 numbers could get 5 districts, there may be pressure to do a formal increase (say by 10 so nobody loses and even some will win. )

Which could be a peaceful political one: a new Constitutional Convention, creating a 2nd Republic.

I don’t really see how such a clause can be effectively enforced. All you need to do is amend the clause out at the same time. Presumably it would come about through a massive overhaul of the entire constitution that would come about through a national convention, where it is widely recognized that the previous constitution is not effective at all, and not just a one-line edit that the courts could say is clearly not what was intended.

Except for step 1, this is incorrect. What happens in step 2 is that each state gets a series of “priority numbers” which is that state’s population, P, divided by the square root of n(*n *+1), where n is every whole number starting with 1. These priority numbers decrease in size as n gets bigger. Then you take all these priority numbers for every state and put them in a list from greatest to smallest. Then you take the top [435 − 50 =] 385 priority numbers and add up how many from each state made the cut, and that’s how many additional representatives each state gets.

One of the troubles with the currently legislated number of Representatives is that it doesn’t have enough representatives to be granular enough to differentiate properly the voting “value” of voters in the states with lesser populations. The variance in size among, say, states with 2 representatives as a percentage of the overall population can be quite large, compared to, say, the variance for those with 10 representatives compared to their size.

I have long predicted that the number of representatives will never be changed. The only way that might happen is if both parties were going to get essentially an equal number of the new representatives, based on voting patterns, and that’s very unlikely to occur, simply by increasing the number.