Today, the US Census Bureau released the statewide population numbers that determine congressional apportionment. Rhode Island will have two congressional districts for the next decade.
Statement of Common Cause Rhode Island Executive Director John Marion
Under the leadership of the statewide Complete Count Committee, Rhode Islanders worked hard to ensure that every resident was counted in the 2020 Census, including people in communities that are traditionally hard to count. That work is reflected in today’s announcement. Because of the Committee’s ‘get out the count’ efforts, Rhode Island will maintain our current two congressional districts.
We are grateful for the leadership of former Central Falls Mayor James Diossa, Director of the Department of Health Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, and Director of the Department of Human Services Courtney Hawkins, who lead the state’s outreach efforts. We are also grateful to the Rhode Island Foundation, United Way of Rhode Island, and the many other organizations that were part of the statewide effort to get every Rhode Islander counted. Most importantly, we thank every Rhode Islander who completed the census.
The 2020 Census faced unprecedented challenges, from a Trump administration that tried to add a last minute citizenship question, to a worldwide pandemic that hit just as the count was set to begin. The public-private partnership of our statewide Complete Count Committee rose to the challenge and worked tirelessly to reach those communities that were hardest to count. While the topline population count released today is good news for our state, there may be communities that were undercounted that we will learn about in the coming months as the Census Bureau releases additional data.
Today’s release also represents the beginning of our state’s redistricting process. The General Assembly has yet to pass legislation needed to create a commission to redraw the congressional and state legislative boundaries. Common Cause Rhode Island calls on them to pass S 0537 and H 5868 that would create a more transparent and inclusive process for drawing the state’s new political boundaries. It is important that the redistricting process focus on the impact on communities, rather than partisan interests. The Census Bureau expects to release the redistricting data file in September and Rhode Island needs to be prepared to draw new maps that are fair for all voters.