Washington is on track to add seat in U.S. House
If population trends announced Wednesday by the U.S. Census Bureau hold, Washington could be in line to pick up a new seat in Congress — its 10th — following next year's head count, a new study finds.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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If population trends announced Wednesday hold, Washington could be in line to pick up a new congressional seat — its 10th — after next year's census count, a new study finds.
All we need is 25,000 more people by April 1, and at the rate we're growing that seems a pretty good bet.
"This is very good news for Washington; a greater voice in the Other Washington," Secretary of State Sam Reed said.
Washington added an estimated 770,000 new residents this decade for a total population of 6.7 million people, ranking it 13th among the states, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, which releases an unofficial population estimate every year.
Washington's population has grown 13 percent since 2000, making gains through domestic and international migration even as the economy weakened and job losses multiplied over the past year. A decade ago Washington was the nation's 15th-largest state.
The estimate released Wednesday is the last before the Census Bureau conducts a full population count April 1, fewer than 100 days away. It shows that Washington added nearly 100,000 new residents between July 2008 and July 2009.
An analysis of these estimates by a Virginia-based firm, Election Data Services, said 17 states would be subject to the redrawing of congressional boundaries if the population trends reflected in the 2009 estimates hold through the April 1 count. Election Data specializes in redistricting and the analysis of census and political data.
The seat Washington appears likely to gain had been slated for Oregon, which was on the bubble to gain a seat based on last year's estimates. But Oregon didn't see the expected population gains.
"The additional seat appears to have gone to its northern neighbor, the state of Washington," the report said.
Six other states — Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina and Utah — also would gain a seat. Texas, which has added nearly 4 million residents since the decade began, would take the grand prize, with three additional seats.
Eight other states would lose single seats: Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.
Ohio is projected to lose two, according to Election Data Services.
The U.S. and state constitutions require congressional and legislative districts be of equal population. If Washington gains an additional congressional seat, legislative districts must be redrawn.
In Washington, that work falls to a five-member bipartisan commission, whose membership will be determined in 2011, said David Ammons, spokesman for the Secretary of State's Office.
He said district maps must be agreed to by at least three commissioners, before the plan goes to the Legislature.
"The Legislature's vote is up-or-down," he said.
Census estimates for 2009 showed that California remained the most populous state in the country, with 37 million people as of July 1, followed by Texas with 24.8 million and New York, with 19.5 million.
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