By Joseph Ax, Reuters, and Robert Pozarycki
The Empire State is losing just one seat in the House of Representatives in 2022 after the U.S. Census Bureau released new population data Monday based on the 2020 Census.
The Bureau delivered the results of the Census to the president on Monday, keeping up with its 10-year Constitutional obligation for a population count. New York state’s population topped 20 million for the first time in the 2020 Census, with approximately 20,201,249 residents; that’s a 4.2% growth from the 19,378,102 people counted as New York state residents in the 2010 census.
But that wasn’t enough to keep New York from losing a House seat, dropping its delegation from 27 to 26 members. It also reduces by one the state’s presidential/vice presidential electoral vote count, from 29 to 28. Still, New York has the fourth most electoral votes and members of Congress of any state in the Union.
The state legislature will be tasked with redrawing the state Congressional map, dividing New York into 26 Congressional districts in time for the 2022 elections. The Census data for New York state will also be used by the state and local governments to redistrict other legislative seats in the Empire State.
Every 10 years, the population data gained in the Census is used to reapportion House of Representative members, with states gaining or losing seats based on their population growth or loss.
Under the U.S. Constitution, the 435 seats in the House and the votes in the Electoral College that select the U.S. president every four years are divided among the 50 states based on population, with every state receiving at least one congressional seat.
Texas will receive two congressional seats, and five states – Florida, North Carolina, Colorado, Montana and Oregon – will gain one congressional seat each, the census bureau said.
California, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia are also each losing one seat.
The shift in seats to states such as Texas and Florida, where Republicans control the statehouses, could be enough to erase Democrats’ razor-thin majority in the House. Republicans in both of those states have in the past engaged in aggressive gerrymandering, the process by which maps are deliberately redrawn to benefit one party over another.
Every state uses the census data to redraw lines both for districts and thousands of state legislative seats, a process known as redistricting.
That work cannot be completed until the census releases more precise block-by-block data, which is slated for September. The delay has raised concerns about whether states will have time to complete redistricting ahead of next year’s midterm elections.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2019 that federal courts have no power to restrict political gerrymandering, although racial gerrymandering – which aims to curb the political power of specific racial or ethnic groups – remains unlawful.
The four most populous U.S. states – California, Texas, Florida and New York – have more than 110 million residents combined and will hold about one-third of the House seats.
The shift of seven seats among 13 states was the smallest number of seats moving among states in any decade since the current method of calculating them was adopted in 1941, officials said.
Overall, the U.S. population stood at 331,449,281 as of April 2020, a 7.4% increase over the previous decade, according to the agency. That rise is the second-slowest in history, behind only the 1930s, census officials said.
Utah’s population grew faster than any other state’s, increasing by more than 18% since 2010. Only three states lost population, led by West Virginia, which saw its population decrease by 3.2%.
Washington, D.C., the nation’s capital, grew by 14.6% to a population of 689,545. Congressional Democrats have passed legislation to admit the district as the 51st state, but Republicans oppose the measure.
The territory of Puerto Rico, which was devastated by Hurricane Maria in 2017, has seen its population decrease by 11.8% since 2010.
Wyoming remains the least populated state, with 576,851 residents.
This story first appeared on amNY.com.