No matter how Coloradans vote Nov. 6 on whether to change how the state draws congressional district boundaries, the people who draw the lines after the 2020 Census likely will have a little more work to do.
Colorado is expected to gain an eighth seat in Congress after the next national headcount, according to the latest census estimates as analyzed by The Washington Post.
The Post says Colorado is one of six states projected to gain one or more congressional districts after the next census. If so, the first election for that eighth seat would come in 2022.
Fast-growing Texas is projected to gain three seats after 2020; Florida, two; and Colorado, Arizona, North Carolina and Oregon one apiece.
Meanwhile, a seat is expected to be lost in Alabama, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia.
Under the Constitution, members of Congress “shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers” as determined every 10 years by the census.
The U.S. House has 435 members. Every decade, fast-growing states get more seats, and states that lose population or grow more slowly than others lose seats.
Colorado last gained its seventh congressional seat after the 2000 Census.
This isn’t the first time the possibility of an eighth Colorado congressional seat has come up. Pollster Floyd Ciruli discussed the possibility in a January 2016 Colorado Politics opinion piece, but he said then that Colorado “is not certain to gain a seat.”
But the Post now says it’s “expected” to happen.
The state’s congressional district boundaries are set by a vote of the Legislature, subject to a gubernatorial veto.
But Amendment Y on the fall ballot would create a bipartisan commission to do the job.
One potential obstacle to Colorado gaining a seat is what state House Speaker Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, has called “a chilling effect through our Latino communities” from a proposed census question about citizenship.
The Trump administration wants to ask about citizenship on the main census questionnaire. Colorado and 17 other states have sued over the proposal, with Gov. John Hickenlooper suggesting that asking for citizenship information could scare immigrants into avoiding the census, possibly leading to an undercount of Colorado’s population.
The census traditionally has counted all residents, whether in the country legally or not.