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Census Data Reveals New York to Lose 2022 Congress Seat

The newly released numbers from the 2020 U.S. Census count showed the state will lose one of its seats in the House of Representatives in 2022. The seat was lost by a count of just 89 people.

(TNS) — New York will lose a seat in Congress and an Electoral College vote based on new population data, the U.S. Census Bureau said Monday in its first announcement of 2020 census results.

U.S. Census officials said Monday if New York counted 89 more people — and the population data for all other states held steady — the state would not be losing a seat.

"It's like voting, every person counts," said Dan Lamb, lecturer at Cornell's Institute for Public Affairs. "Any time there is a near miss like that you start to wonder what could you have been."

As a result of the 2020 census, seven states, including New York, California, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, will each lose one seat in Congress. Six states will gain seats. Texas will add two seats, while Colorado, Florida, Missouri, North Carolina and Oregon will gain one seat. In addition, states that are gaining seats in Congress will also get additional Electoral College votes for the presidential elections.

It will now be up to the state's 10-member Independent Redistricting Commission to decide which congressional seat New York will lose and how to redraw the map, which will require cutting the state's House districts from 27 to 26. The new map could have major implications for which districts are most competitive as well as the battle for the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2022.

The Census Bureau has said it will deliver the full data set used for redrawing the maps to the state by the end of September, but it could be available in some form by mid-August. That information will pinpoint where the state's population declines took place. It also means the final district maps that will be used for the 2022 elections may not be available until the end of the year.

The census was conducted in 2020 for the first time in 10 years with the pandemic posing new challenges to data collection. The data collected will determine apportionment of congressional and state legislative seats, the distribution of Electoral College votes and the impact on federal funding for states and localities.

New York's population grew by 4.2 percent from 2010 to 2020 and more people moved out of the state than moved in to the state, U.S. Census Bureau officials said.

The data released Monday showed New York gained 823,147 residents from 2010 to 2020 for a total of 20,201,249 residents in 2020. In addition, 28,451 fewer federal employees living overseas claimed a New York residence from 2010 to 2020.

Utah saw the greatest population increase of any state, followed by Texas and North Dakota. West Virginia, Illinois and Mississippi lost population.

Upstate United, a non-partisan business and taxpayer advocacy group, called the numbers "bad news" for New York.

"In addition to losing a congressional seat, it was confirmed that Florida has surpassed New York in population," Executive Director Justin Wilcox said. "Given Florida's status a low-tax state, it's no surprise that New Yorkers have relocated there more than (any) other state over the last decade. This troubling trend will continue until we advance meaningful tax relief and reform New York's harsh business climate."

Though it has not started, redistricting is already affecting House races in New York. Chris Mann, assistant professor of political science at Skidmore College, said the late redistricting has "frozen the field" in some competitive districts because candidates are hesitant to jump into some races without knowing the political leanings of the district.

It's not yet known which congressional House district could be eliminated and how the lines will shift in other places.

Lamb speculated that the New York Independent Redistricting Commission would be most likely to eliminate the 23rd Congressional District because U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, a Republican who currently holds that seat, is not seeking re-election. U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, R- Shirley, is also not seeking re-election because he is running for governor.

Elaine Frazier of Albany, a member of the state's Independent Redistricting Commission, said she hoped the new map would reflect the trend of more people moving out of New York City to upstate during the pandemic.

"COVID has produced, I would argue, a significant shift," she said. "It's as much a part of our redistricting efforts as any issue, any partisanship. The people have moved and they're moving upriver."

The New York Public Interest Research Group suggested that upstate New York congressional seats are most in jeopardy. Pointing to 2019 data from a U.S. Census Bureau national survey compared to the 2010 census, NYPIRG said the state's population declines were in central New York, the Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, North Country, Southern Tier and western New York. The Capital Region did not see a population decline from 2010 to 2019.

Last month, the Independent Redistricting Commission secured $4 million in the state budget to execute its work, after a months-long battle to secure funding from the administration of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. The commission is comprised of members appointed by the state Legislature.

Now, the independent commission, which is operating for the first time since it was approved in 2014, will begin outreach to residents and groups across the state for their input on the line drawing process, Frazier said.

The pandemic delayed field operations for the U.S. Census Bureau's data collection. The data is collected by surveying all U.S. residents once every 10 years. For the first time in 2020, the bureau permitted online data collection in addition to mail and phone.

Some questioned whether the pandemic and President Donald Trump's failed push to add a U.S. citizenship question to the census would decrease participation in the 2020 census and reduce the accuracy of the data.

The state allocated about $70 million to help support the census count, with the majority of funds going to state agencies to do outreach and part of the money going to counties and community groups. Lots of the work spreading the word about how to complete the census was done by volunteers.

California, which is also losing a House seat, had an $187 million outreach campaign; Texas was the only state to gain two seats and had allocated little to the effort.

Frazier said the funding in New York was "not enough."

"This was not your garden-variety census,"Frazier said. "We actually, up here, were doing a complete count activity while we were spreading information about COVID ... (and) doing the count under those conditions was extraordinary."

Despite the challenges of COVID-19, more people may have participated in the U.S. Census in 2020 because they were at home when the count was being conducted, Lamb said.

(c)2021 the Times Union (Albany, N.Y.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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