Montana will regain its second congressional seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, according to the 2020 Census state population count released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The count reveals that Montana’s population grew from 989,415 people in 2010 to 1,085,407 people in 2020 – an increase of 95,992 residents over 2010, or nearly 10 percent.
“Thanks to the efforts of Montanans across the state, the 2020 Census shows what we’ve known to be true – Montana is a great place to live, work, and raise a family,” Gov. Greg Gianforte said.
“This is a great day for Montana. With a second congressional seat, Montanans will have another voice in Congress to work on their behalf,” Gov. Gianforte continued. “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.”
Montana had two congressional districts until 1993, when reapportionment based on the 1990 population count resulted in Montana losing its second seat.
The U.S. Census Bureau is expected to release sub-state level data later this year. That information will be used by the independent Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission to determine the boundaries for Montana’s two congressional districts and to redraw local legislative districts.
U.S. Senator Steve Daines issueda statement after it was announced that Montana will regain a seat. “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. 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,” Daines said.
U.S. Senator Jon Tester released a statement as well. “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. 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,” said Tester
Montana State Senate President Mark Blasdel (R-Kalispell) also praised the news. “Today’s announcement is exciting and great news for Montana! After decades of being underrepresented, Montanans will have finally have a proportional voice in the U.S. House of Representatives. As Washington, D.C., has become more and more disconnected from the needs and values of Montana, doubling our voice in Congress is a massive step in the right direction. Montana’s redistricting commission now needs to draw our district lines to best serve ordinary Montanans and avoid partisan gerrymandering,” said Blasdel.
Montana’s current lone representative, Matt Rosendale, also issued a statement on no longer representing the entire state “Even though I will no longer be the lone representative from the state of Montana, this is a great opportunity for the state. Having another member in our delegation makes us that much more powerful and it means we will have representation on more committees that are important to our state,” Rosendale said.
The federal government conducts the constitutionally mandated population count of all residents in the United States every 10 years. States help promote the importance of responding to the count.
“As the lead agency for the state’s census efforts, the Department of Commerce worked with partners across Montana to encourage Montanans to self-respond to the 2020 Census,” said Scott Osterman, director of the Montana Department of Commerce. “The updated state population count is the result of months of all-hands-on-deck statewide work to let Montanans know about the importance of being counted.”
Last year, the U.S. Census Bureau suspended field operations from March to early May in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to forming the basis for congressional, legislative and school districts, census data are used to appropriate federal funding. This appropriation helps fund more than 300 programs for things like highway planning, health care, educational programs, and community infrastructure.