By Denise-Marie Ordway, Journalist’s Resource
The U.S. Constitution requires the federal government to count the American population every decade to determine how the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives should be divided among the 50 states.
If the tally is wrong, some states will get more seats than they should and others will get fewer. An accurate census also is important because population information is used to adjust the Electoral College and make decisions about how to distribute funds for hundreds of federal programs — from Medicaid and food stamps to highway construction and special education.
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