COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Ohio will lose one congressional seat for the 2022 elections as states in the South and West turned booming population growth into more federal representation.
The U.S. Census Bureau on Monday announced state-level results of the 2020 census, including the number of seats each state will have in the House of Representatives through 2030. The House is fixed by law at 435 members, meaning the higher share of the nation’s population a state has, the more members it gobbles up.
Ohio was one of seven states to lose a seat in Congress, along with California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. This does not, however, mean Ohio lost population; it just means Ohio now has a smaller share of the nation’s people, so it loses representation.
Ohio will go from 16 congressional seats to 15. It had as many as 24 in the 1960s.
Six states in the South and West gained seats, with Texas picking up two and Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon each gaining one. Thirty-eight states are unchanged.
Monday’s announcement further confirmed a decades-long trend of more Americans leaving the Rust Belt than other regions. Since 1940, 84 House seats have shifted from the Northeast and Midwest to the South and West.
The South, stretching from Delaware to Texas, had the highest growth of any region at 10.2% over the past 10 years. The Midwest, roughly from Ohio to North Dakota, had the least growth at 3.1%.
Each state is guaranteed one House member. Then the Census Bureau uses a formula to distribute the remaining 385 seats, ensuring that each congressional district has roughly the same number of people.
Territories and federal districts like Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., each have one delegate in Congress but no voting members.
Congressional districts also determine the number of electoral college votes each state gets in presidential elections (House seats plus two Senate seats). Ohio’s 18 electoral votes in 2020 will drop to 17 in 2024.
The Census Bureau does not draw the borders of congressional districts. That process – redistricting – is up to individual states. In Ohio, that duty lies with the state legislature, which needs three-fifths of all lawmakers (and one-third of the minority party) to approve a map in effect for 10 years.
If lawmakers in Columbus can’t agree, then it’s up to a commission of the governor, auditor, secretary of state and four bipartisan legislators. If the legislature doesn’t agree on that map, then a simple majority can approve it, although the approved map can be vetoed by the governor or repealed via referendum.
Federal law requires that districts be nearly equal in population and not discriminate based on race or ethnicity. The Census Bureau has said it will provide states data for this process by Sept. 30.
Last year’s census found that 331,449,281 people were residents of the U.S. as of April 1, 2020. California has the most people at 39.5 million and Wyoming the least at just over 576,000. Utah’s population increased the most at 18.4%, while West Virginia saw the biggest decrease at minus-3.2%.
A nationwide 7.4% increase since 2010 was the second slowest 10-year growth in U.S. history, just beating 7.3% during the Great Depression of the 1930s. U.S. population grew 9.7% from 2000 to 2010.