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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 Farr of Littleton, both of which were withdrawn in favor of one introduced by Mr.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 263 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 ?
“6 2. Whether persons over seventy years of age are 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, Sect. 3.)
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:
"1. 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.
Tamworth, Mason of Moultonborough, Gallinger of Concord, Shirley of Andover, Ramsdell of Nashua, Woodbury of Pelham, Hatch of Keene, Buffum of Walpole, Tolles of Claremont, Sturoc of Sunapee, Murray of Canaan, Putnam of Warren, Burton of Lancaster, Bedel of Colebrook.
Mr. Marston of Exeter, in a long speech in which he defended the old basis of representation and the importance of a large house, said:
“ All the trouble as I think, and all the increase of representation which has created the whole desire and induced many people to think that there ought to be a diminution in the House of Representatives, arise from an abuse of the law
It went so far that the Legislature gave to the little town of Gosport (annexed to Rye in 1876) the right to send a representative, and it only cast 12 votes.”2
Mr. Bell of Exeter, for the special committee of twenty, to whom was referred the various propositions basing the representation upon population, reported that the committee, after consideration of the several propositions, recommended the adoption of the following amendments to the constitution :
Strike out Articles 9, 10 and 11, and insert the following:
". There shall be in the legislature of this state a representation of the people, biennially elected, and founded upon principles of equality; and in order that such representation may be as equal as circumstances will admit, every town and place entitled to town 1 Journal of the Constitutional Convention of 1876, pp. 224, 225. Ibid., pp. 234, 235.
privileges, and wards of cities, having 600 inhabitants by the last preceding general census of the State, taken by authority of the United States or of this State, may elect one representative; if 1800 such inhabitants, may elect two representatives; and so proceeding in that proportion, making 1200 such inhabitants the mean increasing number for every additional representative: Provided, that no town shall be divided, or the boundaries of the wards of any city so altered, as to increase the number of representatives to which such town or city may be entitled by the then next preceding census; and provided further, that the legislature in session next before these amendments shall take effect shall equitably apportion the representatives to those towns which may have been divided or whose boundaries have been changed since the last census, and in those cities the boundaries of the wards of which have been altered since the last census, in such manner that the number of representatives shall not be greater than it would have been had no division or alteration been made.
66 ARTICLE 10. Such towns, places, or wards have less than 600 such inhabitants shall be classed by the general court for the purpose of choosing a representative, so that each such class shall contain at least 600 such inhabitants, and be seasonably notified thereof; and in every class formed for the above mentioned purpose, the first annual meeting shall be held in the town, place, or ward wherein most of the inhabitants reside, and afterward in that which has the next highest number, and so on, biennially, in rotation through the several towns, places, or wards forming the district.
“ ARTICLE II. Whenever any town or place entitled to town privileges, and wards of cities, shall not have 600 such inhabitants, and be so situated as to render the classing thereof with any other town, ward, or