Washington state is among eight states who will be receiving an additional congressional seat.
Census officials, including former Gov. Gary Locke, the commerce secretary, have just announced that Washington state’s population has grown rapidly enough in the past decade to warrant a new 10th congressional seat, the Office of the Secretary of State Sam Reed said.
The state population grew by 14.1 percent since the 2000 census, to 6,724,540 million people. The population growth in the West also was very strong, up 13.8 percent. The U.S. average was 9.7 percent, to 308.7 million people.
Because much of the growth took place in Western Washington, it is most likely that the new district will be within the Puget Sound region of the state, however, all of the current districts will be changed significantly, particularly in Western Washington.
“Election officials at the state Capitol watched the Census news conference and erupted in cheers as the map flashed on the screen showing that Washington is one of a handful of states to pick up one or more seats. Several states also lost one or more seats,” the office of the Secretary of State said in a statement.
Secretary of State Sam Reed said he was delighted with the news of a new seat.
“We couldn’t be happier,” he said. “This is a great day for the people of Washington. We gain in clout, with another strong voice in Congress to be added in 2012. We gain an Electoral College vote and our population gain means we get a little larger slice of the pie as federal grants are apportioned out based on population,”
A four-member bipartisan citizen commission will be doing the actual work of dividing up the state in equal-sized congressional districts and legislative districts. An additional, nonvoting chairman will also be on the commission.
They will have all of 2011 to develop and finalize the maps. The Legislature has virtually no role and the governor cannot sign or veto the maps.