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Congressional Districts: 109th Congress

Every House of Representatives member serves the people living in their congressional district. Approximately 600,000 citizens are included in a congressional district. A Congressman's district can contain a few dozen city blocks, or it can contain many counties, depending upon how close together the people live. A number identifies each congressional district. For example, The Dirksen Center is located in Illinois's 18th congressional district. Voters cast ballots only for the candidates from their own district.

Each state's governor and legislature decide the shape of congressional districts. Republicans and Democrats fight to create district shapes that will favor their party. In 1812, Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry, a Declaration of Independence signer, helped to create a district shaped like a salamander so that his Democratic-Republican Party would get one more representative in Congress. In honor of the famous governor and his salamander-like district, we call similar tricks of politics "gerrymandering."

DIRECTIONS: Print this worksheet to complete. Find Congressional Districts at: http://www.congresslink.org/print_index2.htm and study the "Congressional Districts - 109th Congress" maps by clicking the state links in the middle of the page. Use the printable maps to answer the following questions.

  1. Select the map for the state of New York State. View the map of the 24th district. According to the small map of New York's 29 districts, which congressional district appears largest? Why do you think this district is so large? How does New York's largest district compare to the largest congressional district in your state?

  2. Go back to the "Congressional Districts - 109th Congress" maps and find your state link in the middle of the page. In your state, which district is due north of the congressional district where you are located?

  3. In your state, which districts are immediately west of the congressional district where you are located?

  4. Go back to the "Congressional Districts - 109th Congress" maps and find 16 congressional districts, in any state, covering a small area of 6 tiny counties. What six counties, or parts of counties, are represented in Congress by these 16 districts?

  5. How do you explain these 16 unusually small congressional districts?

  6. Go back to the "Congressional Districts - 109th Congress" maps and find your state link in the middle of the page. Which district do you think is your state's best example of gerrymandering? Go back to find the state of New York again. Which district is the best example of gerrymandering in New York?

  7. Go back to the "Congressional Districts - 109th Congress" maps and find your state link in the middle of the page. In your state, which congressional district(s) contain(s) the most counties or parts of counties?

  8. According to CongressLink's Information Center Elected Officials map --http://capwiz.com/cl/dbq/officials/ -- how many Congressmen and women does your state have?

  9. Go back to the "Congressional Districts - 109th Congress" maps and find your state link in the middle of the page. In your state, which congressional district would you guess might have the fewest huge cities?

  10. Which congressional district is farthest east from your state?

  11. Which congressional district is farthest west from your state?

  12. What district's Congress member would probably travel farthest to Washington, D.C.?