Growth in Florida’s population will give the state two new congressional seats and two electoral votes thanks to the census count earlier this year.

Florida’s population grew 17.6% in the last decade, enabling the state to pick up the new congressional seats in time for the 2012 elections, the U.S. Census Bureau said Tuesday.

The state, with a population of 18.8 million, remains the fourth most populous behind California, Texas, and New York.

State Senate President Mike Haridopolos said Florida is now tied with the third-largest congressional delegation in the country with 27 members.

“Now the work begins in the Florida Legislature as we draw new congressional districts as well as seats in the Florida House and Senate,” Haridopolos said.

Two other Southeast states picked up one new seat each in congress — Georgia and South Carolina. The Census pegged their populations at 9.7 million and 4.6 million, respectively.

Louisiana, with a population of 4.5 million, was among 10 states that each lost a seat in Congress as a result of the Census.

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