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Shall the number of representatives to the House be diminished by increasing the ratio of representation ?
"2. Shall the number of representatives to the House be diminished by districting the state into representative districts?
“3. Shall the number of representatives to the House be diminished by diminishing by definition the number of ratable polls?
“4. Shall the number of representatives to the House be diminished by a classification of all towns having less than 150 ratable polls?”
Numerous specific plans for reducing the number of members of the house were submitted of which the following are the more important:
Mr. Page of Haverhill introduced the following amendment:
“ Amend article 9 by striking out all after the word 'privileges,' in the fifth line, and adding the words,
having 400 inhabitants, may elect one representative; if 2,000 inhabitants, may elect two representatives; if 4,000 inhabitants, may elect three representatives; and so proceeding in that proportion, making 2,000 inhabitants the mean increasing number for every additional representative—the number of inhabitants in each case to be taken to be the number shown by the last preceding official census taken under the authority of the United States; and no towns shall be so divided or cities warded as to increase their ratio of representa
On December 12, Mr. Sargent of Concord introduced the following resolution :
* Journal of the Constitutional Convention of 1876, p. 61. · Ibid., pp. 66, 67.
• Resolved,—That the state be divided into 100 representative districts to be formed so as to contain as nearly as may be an equal number of inhabitants, and in such a way as to conform to the existing county, town, and ward lines so far as may be, and that each of said districts shall be entitled to send two representatives to the General Court. The Legislature may from time to time change these districts so as to make them conform as nearly as may be to the foregoing conditions, but in no case shall any change be made in said districts oftener than once in ten years."
Mr. Badger of Concord introduced the following:
“Amend by striking out articles 9, 10, 11, and inserting therefor the following words, • The House of Representatives shall consist of not less than
), nor more than ( ) members, chosen by the cities, towns, and places entitled to town representation, according to population as shown by the decennial census of the United States as follows: The whole population of the state to be divided by the maximum number of representatives, and the quotient arising by dividing the population of any city, town, or place, by the first resulting quotient shall determine the number of representatives to which any city, town, or place, may be entitled. Provided, however, that all cities, towns, places, which cannot be represented by this process, shall be entitled to representation such portion of the time as their respective populations bear to the first resulting quotient. Provided, however, that every city, town, and place, however small its population, shall be entitled to representation each year when a new apportionment of the state tax is made.
1 Journal of the Constitutional Convention of 1876, p. 133. ' Ibid., p. 188.
Other detailed plans were introduced by Mr. Gallinger of Concord and by Mr. Farr of Littleton, both of which were withdrawn in favor of one introduced by Mr. Lyford of Canterbury, which proposed to make six hundred inhabitants the basis for the first representative and twelve hundred additional inhabitants the mean increasing number for an additional representative.'
Mr. Gallinger estimated that on this basis the house would contain not more than three hundred members, probably less.
Upon the main question being put, “ Is it desirable to reduce the number of members of the house?” a division was called for, whereupon 268 members voted in the affirmative, and none in the negative.
The question of the proper definition of the term “ ratable polls” was frequently under discussion, and numerous facts were brought out showing the effects of the different interpretations in the past.
During the first half-century under the constitution there had been no definition of ratable polls, either by statute or by the courts. But in 1834 the superior court were requested by the house of representatives to give their opinion on the following questions:
"1. Are aliens ratable polls, within the intent and meaning of those provisions of the Constitution of this State which relate to the number of Representatives to this House to which the several towns in this State are entitled ? "2. Whether persons over seventy years
of ratable polls within the intent and meaning of the same provisions of said constitution and laws of this State?” 1 Journal of the Constitutional Convention of 1876, p. 223. 2 Ibid., p. 223.
At the June session, 1835, the superior court communicated to the house of representatives their opinion on the above questions, in effect as follows:
The term “ ratable polls as used in the constitution, includes all male polls twenty-one years of age and upwards, subject to be made taxable and which are made taxable.
Aliens are to be included in determining the representation of towns because they are taxable by existing laws.
Persons over seventy years of age are to be excluded, because they are excused from taxation. Reports, Vol. VIII, pp. 573-576.)
In 1842 the term “ratable polls” was defined by statute as follows:
- In determining the number of representatives to which any town is entitled, every male inhabitant of the age of twenty-one years and upwards shall be considered a ratable poll.” (Rev. Stat., 1842, Chap. 29,
In 1847 this definition was amended and the meaning limited to
“ Every male inhabitant of twenty-one years of age and upwards, who is a legal voter in such town or place, or not being a legal voter has resided therein twelve months next preceding the election at which such representative or representatives are to be chosen, or who has been taxed and has paid a poll tax within such town during the year preceding the same election." (Laws of N. H., 1847, Chap. 493, Sect. 1.)
But again in 1871 a law was passed which in effect reënacted the statute of 1842. The act of 1871 is as follows:
“ In determining the number of representatives to which any town or ward is entitled, every male inhabitant therein, who is a voter, and any other person of twenty-one years of age and upwards, and who is liable or subjected by law to a poll tax, shall be considered a ratable poll.” (Laws of N. H., 1871, Chap. 5, Sect. 4.)
At the suggestion of Mr. Hatch of Keene :
66 I. All members in favor of basing representation upon the number of ratable polls were requested to stand and be counted, and 14 members so voted.
" 2. All members in favor of basing representation upon legal voters were requested to stand and be counted,
and 44 members so voted. “3. All members in favor of basing representation upon population were requested to stand and be counted, and 232 members so voted.”
On December 14, on motion of Mr. Page of Haverhill, the following resolution was adopted : “ Resolved, That population be the basis of representation.” Yeas, 177 ; nays, 15.?
Upon motion of Mr. Ramsdell of Nashua, the convention voted that a committee of twenty be appointed to take into consideration the question of the basis of representation. This committee was as follows: Messrs. J. J. Bell of Exeter (chairman), Wendell of Portsmouth, Wheeler of Dover, Woodman of Somersworth, Cole of Gilford, Whipple of Laconia, Hubbard of
1 Journal of the Constitutional Convention of 1876, p. 221. Ibid., p. 222.