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Editorial Roundup: Census figures: Minnesota civic engagement pays off

Minnesota’s vaunted reputation for civic engagement gained luster this week when the Census Bureau released the calculations of how it divvies up the 435 seats in the U.S. House.

For the second decennial census in a row, Minnesota landed that last, 435th seat. The margin was excruciatingly tight. The Census Bureau said Monday that had New York reported just 89 more residents, the Empire State would have gotten that final House seat and Minnesota would be reduced to seven representatives.

It might have been even closer. Minnesota’s state demographer told the Star Tribune that, by her calculations, had Minnesota reported 26 fewer people, it would have lost that eighth seat.

Replying to that census form last year paid off, people. Minnesota, which generally tops the nation in voter turnout, topped the nation in voluntary response to the census — and now it keeps its accustomed representation in Congress, stays at 10 votes in the Electoral College, and (as a minor benefit) avoids the political wrangle of a necessarily drastic reshaping of its congressional districts.

Minnesota’s response rate was no accident. Citizen participation is a long-standing and valuable part of this state’s culture. And our state government and other organizations worked hard to encourage people to, literally, be counted.

This contrasts to three Sun Belt states that did little to prod census response and in ways acted to discourage the count. Texas was expected to gain three seats; it gained two. Florida was expected to gain two seats; it gained one. Arizona was expected to add a seat; it stayed flat.

For those states, Monday’s numbers were disappointing. For Minnesota — projected to lose a seat after hanging on to it a decade ago — Monday felt like victory.

— Mankato Free Press, April 29

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Editorials from newspapers around the state of Minnesota.

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