Why Don't We Have The General Ticket Anymore? Accurate Political Representation Is A Bigger Concern Now

When it comes to the American House of Representatives, the General Ticket system is no longer in use. It's a simple case of the majority overruling the minority. Back in the day, states that used the general ticket allowed residents to vote for the entire state’s representatives, rather than just the representative of their geographically-defined home districts. It may sound convenient, but it ultimately led to representation issues.

This wasn't a problem in smaller or less populous states, where at-large representatives could adequately represent the interests of the whole state. Instead, it was an issue in larger states. In states with large expanses of territory and population, rural and urban districts tended to have differing interests, and it made more sense to have representatives separately elected by their own districts. If the at-large system was still in place, it would lead to majority control over the entire state; if a representative wasn't on the majority ticket, they wouldn't be elected.

In 1842, an Apportionment Bill restricted the use of the general ticket, except for sometimes in relatively less-populated states, such as Hawaii. The last time the general ticket system was used was close to 50 years ago, with states taking into account the apportionment of congressional districts instead.

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Simply put, congressional apportionment is how the seats in the House of Representatives are distributed between the states. Each state gets an portion of the number of seats, 435, based on how large its approximate population is compared to that of the entire United States. This figure is based on the results of the most recent census, and every state is constitutionally entitled to at least one seat. The most populated state, California, currently has 53 representatives, while seven states (Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming) have one representative each. Still there is controversy, surrounding this system, especially since some members of congress represent districts with less constituents than others.

Congressional apportionment directly impacts the presidential election, since the number of electors in the Electoral College system in each state is the same as the state’s total number of members of Congress. Plus, states award all of their electors to the presidential candidate who wins the state's popular vote, with the exception of Maine and Nebraska.

Unlike the House of Representatives, the Electoral College still uses the general ticket. Some wonder whether we should abolish the Electoral College and directly vote our presidential candidates into office instead. Others defend it, since it protects the interests of rural communities. Either way, the fact remains that the House of Representatives has gotten rid of the general ticket, and it is unlikely to go back to that system in the near future.