HELENA (KPAX) — Starting in 2023, Montana will once again have two representatives in the U.S. House, according to results from the U.S. Census Bureau.
The Census Bureau made the announcement Monday afternoon during a virtual news conference to release the first results from last year’s census.
Every 10 years, the Census Bureau is tasked with counting the country and states’ populations. States are then awarded seats in the House based on their proportion of the national population.
Montana previously had two U.S. House members between 1913 and 1993. It will be the first state in U.S. history that had two seats in the House, lost one, and then got it back.
“This is a great day for Montana. With a second congressional seat, Montanans will have another voice in Congress to work on their behalf,” said Governor Greg Gianforte in a news release. “It’s critical we avoid the traps of partisanship and gerrymandering as our new district lines are drawn. Our new districts should be compact, keep our communities together, and make common sense.”
The Census Bureau also announced Texas will gain two seats, and that Colorado, Florida, North Carolina and Oregon will gain one each. California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia will each lose one seat.
“This is great news for all Montanans, who will once again have two voices representing the Last Best Place in the U.S. House of Representatives,” said Sen. Jon Tester. “Now we must make sure that the nonpartisan Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission is allowed to do its job, drawing districts fairly and objectively without interference from politicians.”
For the last 30 years, Montana has been the most underrepresented state in the House, with by far the largest population in any single congressional district in the country. The state is currently estimated to have more than 1 million residents.
“Montana’s had the least representation in the U.S. House of Representatives over the last three decades, so I’m glad to see this news,” U.S. Senator Steve Daines said in a statement. “The next step is to ensure the two new congressional districts are fairly drawn and that all Montanans are fairly represented, communities remain intact and efforts to manufacture a gerrymandered district are not accepted. Using commonsense, objective criteria that limits divisions of Montana communities must be prioritized.”
The Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission will now be tasked with dividing the state into two congressional districts. The first elections for the new seats would be held in 2022. However, this may not be the final word.
Some states that lost seats in this apportionment may file legal challenges over the Census data.