JACKSONVILLE, Ill. — Thanks to Illinois’ population decline, the state is on track to lose at least one congressional seat — putting it on track to lose at least one electoral vote in the Electoral College — when the latest U.S. Census numbers are tabulated.
“In the past five to six decades, we have lost at least one congressional seat” every 10 years, said C.D. Davidsmeyer, state representative for Illinois’ 100th District.
Illinois now has 20 electoral votes, which play an integral role in determining the winner of presidential elections. But the state’s population has declined 1.2% since 2010 and, with the 435 U.S. House of Representatives seats divided among the states, Illinois could lose as many as three congressional seats, according to kiplinger.com.
“It’s difficult for a state to turn the trend around,” Davidsmeyer said of gaining seats back. “We won’t be as strong at the federal level.”
Illinois’ population during the past decade peaked at 12.9 million — in 2011 and 2015. It now sits at 12.65 million.
Davidsmeyer said the state needs to work on bringing down its $7 billion debt and better control how money is used so people will want to stay instead of moving to a neighboring state and so others will be interested in moving here.
“We need incentive for people to be here,” he said.
In 2008, the state had 21 electoral votes. At the height of its electoral strength, from 1912 to 1940, Illinois had 29 electoral votes.
With 20 electoral votes, Illinois remains the largest electoral prize in the Midwest, although nearby Ohio, with 18, gets more attention in the general election because it is a battleground state between the Republican and Democratic parties.
The Electoral College consists of 538 electors. Each state gets as many electoral votes as it has members of Congress with the District of Columbia getting three. To be elected president, the winner must get at least half the total votes plus one — or 270 electoral votes.
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