The Unanticipated Effect of COVID-19 on House Apportionment

Forthcoming, Social Science Quarterly, DOI:10.1111/ssqu.13058

6 Pages Posted: 6 Aug 2021 Last revised: 9 Aug 2021

See all articles by Jonathan Cervas

Jonathan Cervas

Carnegie Mellon University

Bernard Grofman

University of California, Irvine

Date Written: July 19, 2021


It is well understood that even small differences in population can have a disproportionate impact on representation in the U.S. House of Representatives after a decennial census because of the peculiarities of rounding rules that require integer allocations. While the COVID-19 pandemic can be held responsible for accelerating the trend toward the increased use of mail-in balloting, and it affected the ability of the census to collect in-person information, here we call attention to an unanticipated effect of the pandemic on the electoral process that, as far as we are aware, has never previously been identified. By rerunning the apportionment numbers for all states under the assumption that deaths from COVID-19 prior to the start of the Census had not occurred, we show that New York’s congressional delegation would not have lost a seat. New York was the only state whose House seat allocation was affected by disproportionate COVID-19 deaths.

Suggested Citation

Cervas, Jonathan and Grofman, Bernard, The Unanticipated Effect of COVID-19 on House Apportionment (July 19, 2021). Forthcoming, Social Science Quarterly, DOI:10.1111/ssqu.13058, Available at SSRN: or

Jonathan Cervas (Contact Author)

Carnegie Mellon University ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

HOME PAGE: http://jonathan

Bernard Grofman

University of California, Irvine ( email )

School of Social Sciences
SSPB 2291
Irvine, CA 92697
United States
19497331094 (Phone)


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