Bay State may avoid losing a congressional seat as population grows

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BOSTON – Massachusetts may avoid losing another congressional seat if its population growth continues at the pace set over the past five years, Secretary of State Bill Galvin said Tuesday, citing newly released U.S. Census data.

“As we stand halfway from the next federal census, our robust growth in the region, which closely follows the national increase, bodes well for the commonwealth retaining its congressional delegation in the reapportionment after 2020,” Galvin said, referring to the reallocation of congressional seats after each decennial population count. The state lost a seat following the 2010 count.

Population growth in the Bay State has exceeded all other Northeast states, including New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New England’s five other states, Galvin announced.

“Massachusetts has had a growth of 3.8% since the April 2010 census, compared to a 1.7% cumulative increase in the Northeast Region,” Galvin said. Massachusetts had 6,794,422 persons, making it the 15the most populous state in the nation, according to a July 1 Census estimate released Tuesday.

States that grow the fastest can increase their number of congressional seats, as Texas did in 2010, when it added four representatives. Each congressional district must be roughly equal in the number of people it represents, currently at about 710,000, according to the Census Bureau. States where the population shrinks or doesn’t grow as fast as most other states can lose seats in the House.

In the Northeast, New York lost 2 House seats in the last reapportionment, while Pennsylvania and New Jersey, like Massachusetts, each lost one.

Former congressman Barney Frank, who served 16 terms in the House, cited the redrawing of his Fourth District in 2011 as one reason he decided to retire rather than seek re-election in 2012. Frank became the first openly gay House member and was the first to marry someone of the same sex, James Ready, in 2012.