Whether Alabama keeps its seven seats in Congress or loses one will likely be determined by a narrow margin when the results of the 2020 Census are released next month, according to a research group monitoring the numbers.
“Alabama and New York are the two states closest to the line for losing or gaining a seat,” said a release from the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama.
The U.S. Census Bureau released its annual state population estimates last month. According to those numbers, as of July 1, 2020, Alabama has just enough residents to keep its seventh seat.
Those figures might be deceiving, PARCA warned. The census counts a state’s population as of April 1, 2020, and a lot happened between April and July last year that pushed the estimates in Alabama’s favor.
Alabama gained 13,567 residents between July 1, 2019, and July 1, 2020, bringing the state’s total population to 4,921,532, according to the annual estimate. That would mean Alabama would keep the seat by a margin of only 6,210 residents, according to an apportionment calculator created by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research.
New York is losing population — 126,355 residents between July 1, 2019, and July 1, 2020, according to the estimates released in December. The state would lose two Congressional seats, according to these numbers.
But the official census figures will count New York’s population before a spike in COVID-19 deaths there and before thousands of people fled New York City for other states. If the tally as of April 1 didn’t record the decrease, New York would lose only one seat and Alabama could lose one.
Gov. Kay Ivey and other state leaders urged residents to participate in the census to avoid losing the seat and billions of dollars in federal funding. By the time the census concluded in October, 99 percent of the state’s residents had been counted, according to Ivey’s office.