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Arizona fails to add seat in U.S. House after 2020 census

2020 Census Redistricting
Posted at 12:56 PM, Apr 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-27 18:38:57-04

PHOENIX — It’s official, for the first time in 60 years, Arizona will not gain another congressional district.

The US Census Bureau released long-anticipated reapportionment data, which is used to determine if states gain, lose, or maintain their representation in the US House of Representatives, a process that is constitutionally mandated to occur every ten years during the decennial census.

According to the data, the United States grow by 7.4% to a population of 331,108,434, the second-lowest increase on record.

During this time, 746,223 more people were counted in Arizona than in 2010, an 11.6% increase and good enough for the eighth-highest growth rate in the country. Utah stood on top at an 18.2% increase, but even that wasn’t enough for Utah to increase its representation from 4.

Congressional reapportionment is a zero-sum game, using a method called “equal proportions” since 1940 to divvy out the country’s 435 congressional seats.

Only six states ranked high enough to receive additional seats; with Texas receiving two and Colorado, Florida, Oregon, North Carolina, and Montana each getting one.

On the other side of the equation seven states lost one Congressional seat each; California, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, and West Virginia. This is the first time in its history that the Golden State has lost a seat congress.

One of the most important consequences of not gaining a seat is how it may impact that the map-making decisions of the Independent Arizona Redistricting Commission, the government body tasked with redrawing Arizona’s federal and state legislative districts every decade.

Paul Bentz, Director of Research at Highground, an Arizona political consulting and polling company, believes that this turn of events may help Democrats in the short term due to where population shifts have occurred in Maricopa County and beyond.

“Most folks assumed that we would end up with ten districts, which gives you an opportunity to reset the table and start from scratch. In this case, there’s going to be at least some folks pushing for the status quo and the idea that you just change the borders around a little bit.” Bentz said.

Congressman Ruben Gallego represents downtown Phoenix, one of the two majority Hispanic districts in Arizona.

He told ABC15 that the politicization that centered around the citizenship question combined with an inefficiently run program at the state level may have contributed to an undercount among Arizona’s Hispanic and Native American populations.

This undercount, he says, doesn’t just impact these communities since any undercount would decrease the amount of federal dollars that would be allocated to Arizona from the federal government.

“It’s not just a congressional district. We are going to lose billions of taxpayer money that we will be sending to DC and not getting back when it comes to roads, bridges, hospitals, whatever you name it, which is a big mistake.” Gallego said. “I also have to lay some of the blame on Governor Ducey’s desk. They did not organize themselves well enough. They did not run an efficient census. He also did not push back on the President when he tried to politicize the census, and because of that I think we are all going to suffer for it.”

AZ Census 2020, the official committee set up by Arizona’s state government for census outreach, refuted these claims on social media by pointing out that 2020s self-response rate of 64.1% is the highest in two decades, and that 19 of Arizona’s 20 tribal communities had a rate of 100%.