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Opinion

Long Island shouldn't get weaker in Congress

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The news from the 2010 census is not good for New York. Slow population growth will cost the state two seats in the House of Representatives, shrinking the delegation to 27, its lowest ebb since 1813.

The release of those dismal numbers yesterday was the opening bell in this decade's fight to redraw national and state political maps.

New York, with 19,378,102 people, actually gained residents in the past decade. But the 2.1 percent increase here was outstripped by 9.7 percent growth nationally to 308,745,538, and by even greater increases in other regions. The resulting shift of 12 House seats across the nation will continue a 70-year trend of growth in the West and South and decline in the Midwest and Northeast.

It's not clear yet what parts of New York will lose the two House seats, but population trends make upstate the likely place, which should spare Long Island. And when the New York Legislature uses the new census data to redraw political districts within the state, the process should be as nonpartisan as possible. That's a lot to ask, but not too much.

With the balance of power between the parties at stake, redistricting is one of the most baldly political things officials do. But manipulating the process to create safe seats erodes the power of voters when the goal, in this era of dwindling clout for New York, should be to make people want to stay rather than flee. hN

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