Worth the count

Published 8:37 am Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Daily Herald editorial

For those who consider, and perhaps even worry about, Minnesota’s mid-term and long-term future, Tuesday’s news that the state will keep all eight of its Congressional district was a good omen. Minnesota can ill afford to lose the power that is attendant on having that extra vote in the House of Representatives.

Each year, the results of the U.S. Census determine how many members each state will have in the House of Representatives. The total number is unchanging, but divided among the states based on their relative proportions of the United States population. Most Great Lakes states will lose a representative during the period 2012 through 2022 as the nation’s population shifts south and westward. Minnesota is an exception, possibly because Minnesotans as a group participated willingly in the census, ensuring that most everyone was counted.

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Congressional seats equal power when it comes to presidential elections. They also equal power on national issues ranging from education to health insurance. Maintaining strong representation will also prove important, for instance, as heavily populated-but-resource-poor southwestern states look elsewhere in the country for the basics needed to sustain their populations.

Although some, including at least one of Minnnesota’s own extreme-right lawmakers, discouraged participation in the census, the reality is that simply standing up and being counted has helped ensure Minnesota’s continued eight-member representation in the United Staes House of Representatives.