It’s finally official — Utah is gaining an additional congressional seat, bringing our state’s total representation in the House of Representatives to 4 members. Today, the US Department of Commerce announced that results of the 2010 Census indicate Utah’s population is sufficient to garner the additional congressional seat.
By law, each state receives representation in the House in proportion to its population, but is entitled to at least one representative. The total number of voting reps in the House of Representatives is fixed by law at 435.
The 2010 census resulted in the reapportionment of 12 House seats nationwide. In addition to Utah, other states gaining seats are Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina and Texas. States losing seats are Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Utah narrowly missed receiving a fourth seat after the 2000 census, when we fell only about 900 residents short of the required population count. The state went to court to fight for the seat, arguing that thousands of LDS missionaries serving overseas should have been counted in our population totals. That lawsuit was unsuccessful. We’ve had to wait these 10 long years to finally gain the additional representation, and we are excited to finally have it!
The Utah state legislature has the authority through the state constitution to draw district lines, so it is now their responsibility to carve Utah into four congressional districts. Utah Representative Brad Dee, R-Washington Terrace, told reporters that state legislators will organize a commission to will work on redistricting the state sometime toward the end of the upcoming legislative session. Some of us will end up in new congressional districts — I hope I remain in the district of my much-appreciated conservative rep, Representative Chaffetz!
The additional congressional seat will give us an additional vote in the Electoral College, giving heavily Republican Utah slightly more influence in the highly anticipated 2012 presidential election.