Maine keeps two US House seats after population grows by 35K in latest Census
By Jessica Piper
Maine will continue to have two congressional seats and four votes in the electoral college after the state’s population grew by 2.6 percent over the past decade, the federal government announced Monday.
Although Maine’s population — which officially sits at 1,362,359 — increased compared to the last decennial census in 2010, the rate of growth still trailed the overall U.S. rate of 7.4 percent, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau. It was also lower than Maine’s growth rate during the 2000s, when the state’s population increased by 5.5 percent over the decade.
The Census Bureau rolled out the new data on Monday, several months behind schedule after the coronavirus pandemic delayed many of the agency’s operations last year. The data is used to determine legislative and congressional districts as well as some federal funding allocations. Only three states lost population over the last decade.
A handful of states, including New York and Pennsylvania, will lose congressional seats with the updated Census data, while others, such as Texas and Florida, will add seats due to their significant population gains. No New England states gained or lost seats. Maine had been expected to keep two seats based on population estimates from the last few years, though several estimates indicated Rhode Island had been at risk of losing one of its two seats.
The data released Monday included only state-level population totals. More detailed data, including population estimates by race and ethnicity and hyperlocal numbers used for the redistricting process, will be released by Aug. 16, the Bureau said. That timeline will require Maine lawmakers to come up with a workaround as the state’s constitutionally mandated redistricting deadline is in June.
Estimates released over the past few years suggest that Maine will likely have to shift a few towns from the 1st Congressional District to the 2nd District, as the latter — in its current form — saw its population decrease over the past decade.
The detailed data is also used to redraw Maine’s 151 state House districts and 35 state Senate districts. The Legislature will need to finalize districts before the beginning of 2022, when candidates may begin to collect signatures to run for office.