For the first time in 50 years, the results of the US Census might not cost Ohio seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. A new report conducted by the United States Census Bureau estimates that if the census were taken now, Ohio would keep all 16 of its current House seats.
The US Census is taken every ten years and is scheduled to take place on April 1st, 2020. This date is commonly referred to as National Census Day. Though a tremendous amount of data is gathered before and after this day, this date serves as the “reference point” for all information collected.
Since Ohio’s first census in 1800, the state’s population has increased. However, starting in the 1970’s, growth has not kept up with the national population increase. This has caused Ohio’s electoral college vote count to decrease by a third from its historical high of 24 in 1970, to its current 16.
In 2017 and 2018, the population increased by just .31%. In that same time period, the national average increased at almost three times that amount: .71% in 2017 and .72% in 2018.
If this rate of national growth continues into 2020 with no additional increase in Ohio, however, another congressional district will be lost.
Delaware County, part of the Columbus, Ohio Metropolitan Area, had the largest percentage increase, with a current population of 200,464 Ohioans. Meanwhile, Carroll County, located about 30 miles southwest of Canton and home of the Great Trail Festival had the largest percentage decrease with a population estimated to be around 27,380.
When the population is counted, every resident of that state is included, regardless of immigration status. This includes members of the armed services, military contractors, and illegal immigrants. Historically speaking, the census is most inaccurate when counting citizens living in rural areas and immigrants.
Ohio could join nine other states who are estimated to lose seats. Alabama, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, West Virginia are all expected to lose one seat while Illinois is expected to potentially lose two.
At least seven states are predicted to gain seats. Arizona, Colorado, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon would all gain a seat. Florida could gain two while Texas will gain three, the most of any state.
The total number of House seats is capped at 435 as a result of the Reapportionment Act of 1929 (there was no formal House limit outlined in the Constitution). While a minimum of one seat is guaranteed to each state, the remaining 385 seats are apportioned by the percentage of the total U.S. population living in that state.
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Andrew Shirley is a reporter at Battleground State News and The Ohio Star. Send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.