The US Census and Congress

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In advance of the 2010 US census, a November 2009 Top Drawer Ink article, The US Census, featured a timeline of the census from its inception in 1790 to the 2002 centennial. We concluded with the reason for counting every person in the US: To determine the number of seats in the House of Representatives allocated to each state.

How it works

At present, there are 435 seats in the House. According to the US Constitution, each state gets at least one representative. The remaining 385 seats are divided between the 50 states based on resident population according to the census, a process known as “redistricting”. A resident is someone who usually lives and sleeps in a state, as well as government employees and military personnel and their families from that state, but living overseas.

What’s new

Information from the 2010 census indicates some states will gain seats while others will lose.

Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Washington were the gainers. For Texas, with the biggest population change since the last census, this translates into four new seats in the US House of Representatives.

Population declines will cost New York and Ohio two seats each. Eight other states—Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey and Pennsylvania— will lose one seat. Thirty-two states will experience no change in the number of House seats.

What’s next

As required by law, the president received the apportionment figures on December 31, 2010. The redistricting data was released this year, with final 2010 census data to be made available in 2012. In 2013, the newly reapportioned congress—America’s 113th—will convene.

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