My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Posts Tagged ‘reapportionment’

New York Redistricting Map Is Finally Here: The New York Times Makes It Interactive

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

As Congressional districts have been sliced and diced across New York, the New York Times created an easy-to-use interactive map detailing the changes. Enjoy it HERE!

Louisiana vs. The Census Bureau, Department of Commerce, and Obama Administration

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

On November 14, 2011, Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell ”filed suit in the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to recover the congressional seat taken from Louisiana as a result of the 2010 Census. To properly apportion seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Constitution requires that a census be taken every 10 years to count the number of lawful residents in each state. In the 2010 Census, the Census Bureau included illegal foreign nationals, along with holders of guest-worker visas and student visas, in the count of lawful residents of each state. As a result of the Census Bureau’s practice, states with large numbers of illegal foreign nationals gained congressional seats, while states with low numbers of illegal foreign nationals, like Louisiana, lost congressional seats.”

This sentiment was augmented by conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch which took further action today:

Judicial Watch, the organization that investigates and fights government corruption, announced today that it filed an amicus curiae brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the State of Louisiana challenging a current federal policy in which “unlawfully present aliens” were counted in the 2010 Census (Louisiana v. Bryson).

The government used these census numbers to reapportion seats in the House of Representatives and, as a result, the State of Louisiana lost a House seat to which it was entitled.  Louisiana is asking that the Supreme Court order the federal government to recalculate the 2010 apportionment of House seats based upon legal residents as the U.S. Constitution requires.

Judicial Watch’s brief was filed on January 13, 2012, in partnership with the Allied Educational Foundation (AEF) in a lawsuit filed by the State of Louisiana against John Bryson, U.S. Secretary of Commerce; Robert Groves, Director of the U.S. Census Bureau; and Karen Lehman Hass, Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives.  According to the brief:

Amici are concerned about the failure to enforce the nation’s immigration laws and the corrosive effect of this failure on our institutions and the rule of law.  Among the problems caused by this failure is a redistribution of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives to States with large populations of unlawfully present aliens.

Amici respectfully submit that neither Article I Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, the Fourteenth Amendment, or any other provision of the Constitution authorize or permit the inclusion of unlawfully present aliens in the apportionment process.  As a result, this case raises issues critical not just to Louisiana, but to every State, every American citizen, and our federal system of government.

Judicial Watch argues that due to this Census Bureau policy at least five states will lose House seats to which they are entitled.  For example, based upon the Census Bureau’s calculation, Louisiana is being allocated only six House seats, as opposed to the seven that it would have been apportioned, were it not for the inclusion of illegal aliens and “non-immigrant foreign nationals,” encompassing holders of student visas and guest workers.  The brief also notes that the “apportionment, in turn, determines the apportionment of electors in the Electoral College for the next three presidential elections.”

From the Census Bureau…

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Countdown to Congressional reapportionment: 56 days

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

As mandated by the Constitution, this data must be delivered to the President of the United States on or before Dec. 31. That means we’ve got 56 days to go, but word is out that the information will appear around December 26.

How will big GOP wins at the state level affect redistricting?

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

The media is still focusing on the big GOP wins in the House of Representatives. Only a few commentators have noticed the huge gains that Republicans have made at the state level. Here’s some analysis from the Wall Street Journal:

Gains in eight states—including Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin— gave the GOP control of the governor’s office and both legislative chambers. Republicans will be in charge there when drawing new congressional maps, something every legislature must do following each 10-year federal census. Minnesota could join the list depending on the outcome of a governor’s race that was still too close to call as of Wednesday evening.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Republicans now hold the largest share of state legislative seats—53%—since 1928. The party added at least 680 seats Tuesday, the largest gain by either party since 1966, the bipartisan group said.

The authority to carve out districts helps create safe congressional seats for the party in charge. Only a handful of states put the redistricting process in the hands of an independent commission.

“We should be able to pick up at least two-dozen seats,” said Frank Donatelli, the chairman of GOPAC, a political-action committee formed in 1979 to fight for state-level Republicans. “We are in better shape than at any time since the 1960s.”

Democrats didn’t gain control of an additional chamber in any state.

Is it redistricting time already? Some transparency please!

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

The following story comes from OMB Watch:

The Brookings Institution and the American Enterprise Institute convened an advisory board of experts and representatives of good government groups in order to articulate principles for transparent redistricting and to identify barriers to the public and communities who wish to create redistricting plans.

Redistricting is a legally and technically complex process. Access to district creation and analysis software can encourage broad participation by: being widely accessible and easy to use; providing mapping and evaluating tools that help the public to create legal redistricting plans, as well as maps identifying local communities; be accompanied by training materials to assist the public to successfully create and evaluate legal redistricting plans and define community boundaries; have publication capabilities that allow the public to examine maps in situations where there is no access to the software; and promote social networking and allow the public to compare, exchange and comment on both official and community-produced maps.

WSJ: Census makes Obama’s re-election more difficult

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Here’s an excerpt from the Wall Street Journal detailing why 2010 Census results may make re-election more difficult for President Obama:

President George W. Bush would not have won the 2000 election had the 1960 map been in use. But the population movement that occurred over 40 years shifted enough electoral votes from states Democrat Al Gore won to states that Mr. Bush won to make the difference. And for that matter, President John F. Kennedy would not have won the White House had the 2000 Electoral College numbers been in place in 1960.

The best guess – and it is more than a guess since reasonably accurate population projections for the states are no secret – is that the following states are likely to gain one seat in Congress and one electoral vote: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington. Texas will gain at least two and probably three. One other state is likely to gain a seat, but it is not clear at this point which one it will be.

Five of those states, including Texas, went for Republican John McCain in 2008, but all except Washington backed Mr. Bush in the close 2000 and 2004 elections – an indication that if 2012 is as close as it was in those two years, this year’s census could give the GOP nine of the 10 votes.

MyTwoCensus Investigation: Is Florida already gearing up for a challenge to its 2010 Census figures?

Monday, June 14th, 2010

First, here’s some background: States and municipalities have the power to challenge census results. For instance, just this year the Census Bureau admitted that its numbers were faulty for a number of locales around the country and eventually adjusted the totals, immediately effecting how federal funds were/are distributed. A few days ago, Microsoft released a press release stating that it is now operating a software system for the state of Florida that will help the state identify areas where the Census Bureau may have screwed up and failed to count people.

(Check out the site here at myfloridacensus.com)

site note: maybe I should sue Microsoft/the state of Florida for infringing on the mytwocensus name with myfloridacensus? any lawyers out there want to advise me on this one?

The press release states the following:

“The Florida House of Representatives is making one final push over the next month for its state residents to be counted in the 2010 Census, through its MyFloridaCensus (http://www.myfloridacensus.gov) website and Web-based application. MyFloridaCensus is an innovative component in Florida’s overall effort to ensure a complete count of residents during the ongoing 2010 Census, supplementing door-to-door canvassing, which ends nationwide July 10.”

Ostensibly, if Florida doesn’t like its total population count as identified by the Census Bureau, it will happily use data collected through myfloridacensus.com to fight the Census Bureau in its challenge. Does this mean that the stage is already being set for yet another bloody recount in Florida, this one to take place in 2011, ten years after the last one rocked the nation and changed the course of history?

Must-Read: New York’s 2010 Census nightmare

Monday, June 7th, 2010

The following report comes from a Census Bureau official whose identity has been confirmed but will remain anonymous as she is a current Census Bureau employee:

The five boroughs of New York City and its diversified population of eight million have long eluded demographers and census employees in producing an accurate count. Having worked in three censuses now and living in New York for almost my entire adult life I notice that the socioeconomic spectrum of New Yorkers has widened, making the poor poorer and the rich richer. In the last ten years there is an influx of immigrants; some legal some illegal. It makes what was once a one family home in Queens, Brooklyn and The Bronx a two or even three family home. These people are living in converted basements or the second story of the houses some legal some illegal. On the other end of the spectrum, luxury rentals and condominiums have become even more exclusive with price tags in the millions of dollars. In both cases the immigrants and residents of these upscale housing units and their exclusive real estate management companies have ignored repeated attempts by phone or mail to allow enumeration.  Even in the face of a fine, the management companies are adamant about their policy and would willingly pay the fine rather than to allow enumerators to count their residents. The problem is the Census’ Bureau’s threat of a fine is merely used as a scare tactic. When a real estate mogul calls their bluff the actual fine like many other Census Bureau promises is empty.

As native New Yorkers we anticipated these problems. And sitting through four days of verbatim training where someone read through a book, we knew that it wasn’t as simple as the script made it to be to persuade these respondents about the importance of the census and their participation. As a group we brainstormed and created techniques through trial and error to get those who were non-responsive to fill out our questionnaires. Some of these tactics included: sending another enumerator of a different race or creed after several visits with no contact; leaving blank enumerator questionnaires under their door allowing them the privacy of completing it in their own home. One of us even went as far as sending well dressed suits or female fashion models to coerce participation. But all this takes time and money. All of which with 15 billion price tag the Census Bureau doesn’t have.

With inaccurate workload estimation models and front loading the Census Bureau overrecruited, overhired on many operations in preparation for the final major operation: non-response followup. One of the major costs was the paper based operational control system PBOCS which has been the subject of intense scrutiny by media, Congress and employees because of its inability to check out, check out and ship questionnaires and generate management reports. The managers who are monitoring productivity and costs are trained to believe if the reports don’t show it’s done then it isn’t done. With only erroneous reports to rely on, headquarters and regional offices are using a take no prisoners do whatever it takes attitude to pressure temporary employees to complete the task. PBOCS also moves assignment areas fooling LCO managers and field staff into thinking they have more or less work than they have. And ultimately this may have long term geography problems when the Census is completed and used for congressional redistricting.

Since PBOCS doesn’t work correctly and fails to handle the workload, The Census Bureau runs on a more is better attitude. The solution is hire more employees for manually counting and reviewing enumerator questionnaires when they should have slowed enumerator production. Local Census offices have gone from a simple 9am-5:30pm operation to running three shifts 24 hours a day seven days a week with triple to quadruple what their staffing authorizations originally allowed. This compounded the bottleneck, increased the backlog of questionnaires waiting to be checked in and slowed the re -interview and quality assurance phase. There is overwhelming suspicion of data falsification and false proxies but by the time this is figured out the operation will end and the enumerators already released for lack of work.

Now what was originally touted as the most accurate decennial count ever has quickly turned into a race to meet production goals and wrap up the operation as quickly as possible with procedural changes.  We have enumerators, telephone clerks in the LCO, and enumerators from other LCOs taking interviews ignoring the fact that PBOCS will only let you check it in under an enumerator and that if data falsification is happening it will be difficult to find the culprit. What were originally any six personal and telephone visits is now three visits go to a proxy. What used to be try to get the household member because he knows his own name, sex, age, DOB, Hispanic origin and race and whether he rents or owns has become going to a proxy on a first visit and sometimes writing don’t know on most if not all of those questions. Sadly this actually passes the office review portion and nothing in the enumerator procedures disallows that. If a respondent refuses and a proxy is able to give any of the information no matter how knowledgeable he/she is that doesn’t constitute marking it as a refusal, skewing the accuracy of the data.

The incentives of career census employees at RCC and headquarters are in contradiction with each enumerator who wants our city to be accurately counted. The career census employees’ evaluation of performance is purely based on numbers how many cases are completed with little regard to the demography or difficulty of enumerating the population. Their expectation is that the enumeration of traditionally undercounted minorities of Bedford Stuyvesant be just as quick as the white, upper middle class of Upper West Side of Manhattan. The very same agency whose motto has always been the leading source of data about the nation’s people and economy has become a competition between area managers and local census offices.

The leadership in the local census offices isn’t the strongest either. Those who made hiring decisions in New York RCC had every chance to hire the best managers but instead resorted to nepotism to make decisions. When it was clear these decisions were poor the career census employees terminated LCO managers’ employment to cover it up. But then found another disappointing replacement. In an attempt to bring operations up to speed the Census Bureau flew in managers from Denver into Manhattan and headquarters to Staten Island.

The goal is for enumerators to get as many cases in and clerks process work as quickly as possible doing whatever it takes to get the job done, otherwise there will be a formal written reprimand and termination of their employment. It is the chest beating, gorilla apelike attitude of the managers that will ultimately be the demise of New York City.

Lester Farthing, the Regional Director and his managers of the New York Regional Census Center have no intention of an accurate count in the five boroughs. Instead their goal is to appease headquarters, finish as quickly as possible so that the career census employees will be viewed as productive team players who are not questioning the possible inaccuracy of this count. As one of our area managers will say “it’s a hot mess.” I only hope the mayor of our great city Michael Bloomberg, city census coordinator Stacey Cumberbatch, politicians and congressmen are reading this letter and will intervene because ultimately it is the city that will suffer for the next ten years. They were quick to make public announcements touting the importance of participating in the census by returning the forms. But have yet to do anything to persuade non cooperative households and real estate management companies to allow enumerators in to complete their job. The sad reality is that it may be too little too late.

With the way the census works can any of us ever trust census data again?

News from the Keystone State: Pennsylvania Update

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Two interesting stories from Pennsylvania…one from each side of the state:

From the Philadelphia Inquirer, a story about how now deceased Rep. John Murtha’s House of Reps. seat will likely disappear:

The candidate who succeeds the late Rep. John P. Murtha (D., Pa.) in a special election this spring might not want to buy a home in Washington.

That’s because demographers estimate that Pennsylvania will lose at least one seat in the decennial reapportionment of House seats among the states after the 2010 Census – and some political analysts believe the 12th District would be an easy target for state lawmakers reshuffling boundaries before the 2012 elections.

Murtha’s district, which looks somewhat like a crustacean spread over parts of nine counties, was itself gerrymandered into existence to save his job a decade ago, after the Census determined that Pennsylvania would lose two representatives because of sluggish population growth relative to other states.

Even Republicans – who then controlled the state House, Senate, and governor’s office – did not want to lose Murtha or the billions of dollars he steered to Pennsylvania as chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee in charge of defense spending.

Murtha, who died at 77 of complications from gallbladder surgery, was buried Tuesday in Johnstown.

From the Philadelphia  Daily News, an article about redistricting within the city of Philadelphia:

IT HAS BEEN almost 10 years since the last redistricting battle was slugged out in City Council, but the wounds are still raw.

That fight, which centered on the Latino composition of upper North Philly’s 7th District and pitted the mayor against the Council president, dragged on so long that Council members went nearly five months without pay.

The final 10-district map featured three twisted, elongated districts that practically define gerrymandering. And during the period without pay, Councilman Rick Mariano took bribes to cover his bills – a decision that landed him in the clink.

“For my colleagues, every time you mention redistricting it’s like a bad toothache,” said Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez, who represents the 7th District.

Unsurprisingly, much of Council isn’t exactly excited about revisiting the issue. But next spring, after the 2010 census, they’ll have to redraw the district lines again based on the new population numbers.

The current districts were drawn so each would have about 150,000 residents – or about 10 percent of the city’s population in 2000 – but population shifts inevitably change those numbers, forcing the decennial remap.

After the census numbers are released April 1, 2011, Council must pass a plan and get mayoral approval within six months. If it misses that deadline, Council members’ pay will be withheld – as stated in the Home Rule Charter – which has happened the last two times.

Former Councilman Angel Ortiz, who served as an at-large member during the 1991 and 2001 redistricting debates, said members should buckle their seat belts.

“Rick Mariano threatened to throw me out the window last time,” Ortiz said. “I think it’s going to be a struggle. I think a lot of friendships on City Council may be frayed at the end of this.”

Live-blogging a conference call with Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves…

Monday, December 14th, 2009

10:00 – pretty sure the census bureau dropped the ball on this one because i called back in and the line is dead…either the call is over or more likely the census bureau/call center made some sort of error…

9:55 – KNOCKED OFF THE CALL…did it go dead? my line is still working fine…come on!

9:52 – Question: Why don’t you mention single, unattached people under age 30 as a hard-to-count group?

9:31 – 134 million addresses in the USA. As of now, they are 2% points high, compared to 5% high in the 2000 address…there were more duplicates then.

9:29 – go in pairs, with escorts, in high crime areas (for census enumerators)…

9:28 – safety in america: FBI NAME-CHECK…ALL APPLICANTS UNDERGOING FINGERPRINTING…on criminal history check, any convinces for major crimes such as grand theft, child molestation…etc…”if there are convictions of less serious crimes then the applicant can be hired if they don’t pose a risk to the american public”  – With so many people OUT OF WORK who don’t have felonies, why would you hire felons????

9:26 – Over 3.8 million people are being recruited for 1.2 million through 1.4 million people. 700,000 people working for the largest operation, Non-Response Follow Up from May through July 2010.

9:21 – Complete Count Committees forming…who ensures that there is bi-partisan representation on these 9,100 committees (37 in states). But are they bipartisan and independent?

9:20 – 135,000 partner organizations with the 2010 census…here’s one who’s not a partner anymore: ACORN

9:18 – 3 large processing centers open

9:17 – Grovesy talks about the ad campaign that’s getting started. Starting enumeration in Alaska in January. In March, most of the US population receives their forms. April 1 is Census Day (and April Fools Day…ah)…people should return their forms by this day. Otherwise the door-knockers will come knock knock knocking…some talk of reapportionment. In April 2011 the state-redistricting data for local/regional races is distributed.

9:16 – Grovesy’s giving us a quick history lesson about the Census….founding fathers yadda yadda…yawn

9:15 – Dr. Groves is in da house so to speak for the second operational press briefing (shouldn’t we have more of these?)

9:15 – 2010 Census PR Man Stephen Buckner is on the line…

9:13 – We are still standing by…this hold music is now reminiscent of terrible elevator rides.

9:07 – Kind of enjoying the jazz rendition of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer…on second thought, take as much time as you need to start this call.

9:05 – Come on Grovesy…I’m hungry for answers. (Still waiting for call to begin…)

8:59  – Call should begin shortly…

** CENSUS BUREAU MEDIA ADVISORY **

Census Bureau Director to Provide Update on
Status of 2010 Census Operations

What:         U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves will brief the media on the status of 2010 Census operations. Groves will provide an assessment of the Master Address File, which serves as the source of addresses for mailing and delivering more than 130 million 2010 Census forms next March. He will also provide  updates on outreach activities and other logistical operations under way.  The briefing will include a question-and-answer session.

When:        Monday, Dec. 14, 9 – 10 a.m. (EST)

Where:        National Press Club, 13th floor
Fourth Estate Restaurant
529 14th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20045

Members of the media may also participate by telephone. (Please dial-in early to allow time for the operator to place you in the call.)

CQ Politics: Reapportionment In Focus

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

Here is a comprehensive feature article from CQ Politics about the reapportionment that will result from the 2010 Census (click HERE for full article):

The once-a-decade process for redrawing the map of the House of Representatives has two distinct parts with similar-sounding, multisyllabic names. Redistricting, the drawing of the lines within each state, is the second part. Reapportionment, deciding how many House seats each state will have, comes first.

There’s likely to be much more suspense about Part 2 than about Part 1. Although the governors, state legislators and probably some judges will be fighting over congressional district boundaries for much of 2011 and 2012, how many seats get assigned to each state will be decided formally, relatively straightforwardly, by the end of next year, based on the results of the 2010 census.

But the outcome, in broad terms, is not in doubt. As in every reapportionment since World War II, more seats will be awarded to the Southern and Western states, and taken away almost exclusively from the states of the Midwest and Northeast.

The power shift will not be as great as it was over the latter half of the 20th century, when the population surges in the Sun Belt eclipsed the modest growth in the Rust Belt because of a variety of factors: technological advances — air conditioning, first and foremost — that boosted the appeal of life in the warm-weather states; changes in the American economy, especially the decline in manufacturing in the nation’s northern half; the rapid increase in the Hispanic population; and the growth of the retirement and tourism industries that favored the temperate climes and expanses of the South and West.

Based on the most recent detailed population projections from the Census Bureau, the nonpartisan Election Data Services Inc. (EDS) — a consulting firm in Manassas, Va., specializing in political demographics — projects that a dozen seats will be reassigned next year, with eight states gaining some strength in the House and 11 states losing some.

Twelve seats were shifted after the 2000 census; the reapportionment upheaval was significantly greater after the 1990 census (19 seats moved) and the 1980 census (17 seats). The seat-shift projection may change at the end of the year, when the Census Bureau will release new populations of the 50 states based on estimates made this summer.

Not only will the reapportionment signal the start of redistricting, it will also inform the early strategizing about the 2012 presidential election, because each state’s strength in the Electoral College is equal to the size of its total congressional delegation: House members plus senators.

Priority Values

For an event of rather momentous political consequences, reapportionment hardly captures the imagination of the average American. It begins with a national population head count that few people give more than a few minutes’ notice every 10 years. And it concludes with the application of a formula for apportioning seats that only someone with a doctorate in statistics can love, or truly comprehend.

Using forms mailed to every household in March, and follow-up interviews with people who don’t return those forms, the Census Bureau will seek to determine the precise populations of each state on April 1. The secretary of Commerce, who oversees the agency, has until Dec. 31 to announce those population counts. (In 2000, the job got done three days before the deadline.)

The totals provide the raw data for reapportionment based on the “method of equal proportions,” which Congress has used since 1941 to divvy up House seats among the states. The formula is actually used to parcel out only the 385 seats that remain after each of the 50 states is assigned the one seat it is guaranteed under the Constitution.

The rest of the seats are handed out based on statistical “priority values” assigned to each additional seat that a state might get. In as close to plain English as the formula will allow, these priority values are calculated in a two-step process that requires dividing a state’s population by the square root of the product of the number of seats it’s already been assigned and that number plus one. The priority numbers are then rank ordered: “State A” will get an additional seat if its priority value for that seat is greater than any other state’s. The seats are disbursed to states based on these rankings until all 435 have been awarded.

The reason at least a handful of seats get transferred each decade is that reapportionment is a zero-sum game: The size of the House was fixed at 435 seats in a law enacted 80 years ago. The fact that the number of House seats has stayed the same even as the population has soared means a vast increase in the number of constituents represented by most House members. The average district population in the coming decade will be about 710,000 people, 10 percent more than in this decade and 24 percent more than in the 1990s.

Keeping Track of Snowbirds in the 2010 Census

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

Here’s an important case study from the Detroit Free Press in Michigan about counting “snowbirds” in the 2010 Census (Click HERE for full piece):

Tips on how to fill out the residency information on 2010 census forms.

That’s the message from officials with state and local governments and area agencies on aging, who are trying to educate snowbirds about the importance of making sure they are counted as Michigan residents when census forms are delivered to households in late February and March.

Lt. Gov. John Cherry, who is heading the state’s census count effort, said the state estimates about 200,000 snowbirds were missed or not counted as Michigan residents in the 2000 census. He said the uncounted snowbirds contributed to the state’s loss of a seat in Congress and about $2 billion in federal funds over this decade.

Population counts also affect federal dollars that come to the state for hospitals, schools, senior centers, public works projects and emergency services.

“We have a better understanding of what Michigan will lose,” said Paul Bridgewater of the Detroit Area Agency on Aging. “That’s why we’re working harder this year to minimize the loss of the past.”

Billions in funding relies on snowbirds

Rosanne and William Bowker are among the metro Detroiters preparing to leave Michigan’s cold, snowy winter for Florida’s warm sun.

The Royal Oak couple became snowbirds about four years ago after William retired from Chrysler. The 65-year-olds plan to leave after Christmas for their Ft. Myers campground — complete with its own mailbox — for the next four months.

In past snowbird seasons, their neighbors collected their mail and their daughter sent it to them in Florida. But this season, they are having their mail forwarded by the Post Office.

That means they won’t get the 2010 census form that should hit their Michigan mailbox in March. Census forms are not forwarded by the post office because they are based on the residence, not the person, said Kim Hunter, a census bureau media specialist in Detroit.

Rosanne Bowker admitted she never thought about the census form. But after learning that an estimated 200,000 Michigan snowbirds were missed or not counted in the 2000 census, costing the state a congressional seat and about $2 billion in federal funds, she wants to be counted as a resident of her home state.

“I didn’t realize how important it was,” she said.

State, local and Area Agency on Aging officials said it’s critical that Michigan have an accurate tally of its population in the decennial count to receive federal dollars that are directly tied to population and to maintain political influence in Washington on issues such as the auto industry, health care reform and the Great Lakes.

Kenneth Darga, state demographer, said Michigan lost a congressional seat in the 2000 census by just 50,000 people.

“If a portion of our 200,000″ snowbirds “would have been counted, we wouldn’t have lost that seat,” he said.

Louisiana GOP Hopes To Take Drastic Measures To Prevent The Loss Of A Congressional Seat

Monday, August 31st, 2009

Here’s the scoop from the New Orleans Times-Picayune (click HERE for complete article):

BATON ROUGE — The chairman of the state Republican Party said Saturday the state party is looking at ways to prevent “illegal aliens” from being counted in the 2010 federal census. The goal is to preserve a congressional seat for Louisiana, he said.

Roger Villere of Metairie told the Republican State Central Committee, the party’s governing board, that if illegal immigrants are counted in the census, Louisiana likely will see its congressional delegation drop from seven to six House members. House seats are apportioned based on each state’s population in the census.

Villere said states such as Texas and California would pick up representation in Congress because of the large number of immigrants living in them. Federal policy is to count all residents, regardless of their legal status, at the time the census is taken.

“If they do not count the illegal aliens, we would not lose a seat” despite population declines caused by recent hurricanes, Villere said.

“We feel like we need to protect our sovereignty,” he said. “If we take the illegals out of the mix, we could retain one of our congressmen. … We are investigating our options. This is something we are seriously looking at.”

Villere said a decision will be made by year’s end on whether to file a lawsuit or lobby the administration and Congress for a policy change to exclude illegal immigrants. He said he has been in discussions with “people of national stature” on the matter but refused to name them.

“It is not a Republican problem,” he said after the committee’s quarterly meeting. “It is a Louisiana problem.”

Earlier, U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, estimated that 8 million illegal immigrants living in the country are now getting health care paid for by taxpayers.

During the meeting, committee members rejected a plan to hold a nominating convention in Lafayette, Baton Rouge or New Orleans next year to rally the party around one candidate each for a U.S. Senate race and the seven congressional seats.

A convention would energize and unify the party while drawing media attention, according to main proponent Mike Chittom of Baton Rouge.

Our Unconstitutional Census

Monday, August 10th, 2009

Here is an excerpt from a very interesting op-ed that was published in today’s Wall Street Journal (For the entire article, CLICK HERE):

California could get nine House seats it doesn’t deserve because illegal aliens will be counted in 2010.

By JOHN S. BAKER AND ELLIOTT STONECIPHER

Mr. Baker teaches constitutional law at Louisiana State University. Mr. Stonecipher is a Louisiana pollster and demographic analyst.

Next year’s census will determine the apportionment of House members and Electoral College votes for each state. To accomplish these vital constitutional purposes, the enumeration should count only citizens and persons who are legal, permanent residents. But it won’t.

Instead, the U.S. Census Bureau is set to count all persons physically present in the country—including large numbers who are here illegally. The result will unconstitutionally increase the number of representatives in some states and deprive some other states of their rightful political representation. Citizens of “loser” states should be outraged. Yet few are even aware of what’s going on.

In 1790, the first Census Act provided that the enumeration of that year would count “inhabitants” and “distinguish” various subgroups by age, sex, status as free persons, etc. Inhabitant was a term with a well-defined meaning that encompassed, as the Oxford English Dictionary expressed it, one who “is a bona fide member of a State, subject to all the requisitions of its laws, and entitled to all the privileges which they confer.”

Thus early census questionnaires generally asked a question that got at the issue of citizenship or permanent resident status, e.g., “what state or foreign country were you born in?” or whether an individual who said he was foreign-born was naturalized. Over the years, however, Congress and the Census Bureau have added inquiries that have little or nothing to do with census’s constitutional purpose.

By 1980 there were two census forms. The shorter form went to every person physically present in the country and was used to establish congressional apportionment. It had no question pertaining to an individual’s citizenship or legal status as a resident. The longer form gathered various kinds of socioeconomic information including citizenship status, but it went only to a sample of U.S. households. That pattern was repeated for the 1990 and 2000 censuses.

The 2010 census will use only the short form. The long form has been replaced by the Census Bureau’s ongoing American Community Survey. Dr. Elizabeth Grieco, chief of the Census Bureau’s Immigration Statistics Staff, told us in a recent interview that the 2010 census short form does not ask about citizenship because “Congress has not asked us to do that.”

Because the census (since at least 1980) has not distinguished citizens and permanent, legal residents from individuals here illegally, the basis for apportionment of House seats has been skewed. According to the Census Bureau’s latest American Community Survey data (2007), states with a significant net gain in population by inclusion of noncitizens include Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New York and Texas. (There are tiny net gains for Hawaii and Massachusetts.)

This makes a real difference. Here’s why:

According to the latest American Community Survey, California has 5,622,422 noncitizens in its population of 36,264,467. Based on our round-number projection of a decade-end population in that state of 37,000,000 (including 5,750,000 noncitizens), California would have 57 members in the newly reapportioned U.S. House of Representatives.

However, with noncitizens not included for purposes of reapportionment, California would have 48 House seats (based on an estimated 308 million total population in 2010 with 283 million citizens, or 650,000 citizens per House seat). Using a similar projection, Texas would have 38 House members with noncitizens included. With only citizens counted, it would be entitled to 34 members.

California could lose a House seat after 2010 census

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009
H/T to Richard Simon of the LA Times for reporting on the following:

Reporting from Washington — Here’s yet another result of the bad economy: California’s congressional delegation is unlikely to grow and could even lose a seat after next year’s census for the first time since stagecoach days.

If the state loses a seat, it could weaken California’s clout in Washington and reduce the amount of federal money flowing to the state. It could also set off a game of political musical chairs, forcing two incumbents to run against each other.

As if that weren’t enough, the state that stands to gain the most new seats is California’s longtime rival, Texas, the second most populous state.

With the possible loss of a seat, “an accurate census becomes all the more important to California,” said Terri Ann Lowenthal, a former staff director of the House census oversight subcommittee and a member of President Obama’s transition team for the census.

As California’s population has increased — through the booms of the 1880s, the post-World War II years and the 1980s — so has its clout in Congress.

The delegation has grown every time Congress has reapportioned House seats to reflect population changes. The state gained nine seats — the most ever — after the 1930 census, seven after 1950, eight after 1960, seven after 1990 and one after the 2000 count.

The delegation now stands at 53, the largest of any state.

California neighbors Arizona and Nevada are expected to gain seats, as are Texas, Florida and Georgia. Texas alone could pick up as many as four. Michigan and Ohio, hard hit by the recession, are among the states expected to lose seats.

California’s population has been growing at a slower rate than those of a number of other states, a key factor in apportioning congressional seats. It grew 1.1% last year, its lowest rate in a decade.

“The economy, no doubt, held down the growth rate in California,” said UC Berkeley political scientist Bruce Cain.

Demographers believe that the size of California’s delegation will most likely remain unchanged — still significant because of its history of growth — rather than decrease by one. But they also say the state is on the bubble.

“I would be very surprised if we lost a seat, but not at all surprised if we didn’t gain any, based on the job growth,” said Stephen Levy, director and senior economist of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy in Palo Alto.

The state is adding jobs at about the same rate as the national average after above-average job growth from the end of World War II until the early 1990s, when the economy suffered deeply from the collapse of California’s aerospace industry, Levy said.

The Golden State’s share of new immigrants — legal and illegal — has also dropped. The state has been drawing about one-sixth of new immigrants in recent years, down from one-third in the 1970s, ’80s and early ’90s, said Jeff Passel, a demographer with the Pew Hispanic Center in Washington.

He added that the percentage of immigrants settling in the mountain states and Southeast has risen.

As immigration has slowed, more people have moved out of California to other states than into California from other states — a net loss of more than 435,000 and perhaps as many as 945,000 in the last four years.

“During recessions, when California’s unemployment rate is higher than the nation’s, as is the case right now, we tend to experience quite a bit of outmigration,” said Hans Johnson, senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California.

The state’s population has grown, nonetheless, because births and continued, albeit slowed, immigration have outpaced deaths and people moving out of California.

“Population is driven by jobs and the economy. So in this next census, I think there will be a strong correlation to the regional and state economies and population,” said Tim Storey of the National Conference of State Legislatures. “There’s little doubt that California is going to feel that in a special way.”

Still, the fate of the state’s delegation will remain unclear until after the census is completed, because the current population estimates vary.

If the state’s estimate of 12.6% population growth from 2000 to 2008 is correct, Johnson said, California could still gain a seat or two in Congress. Under the Census Bureau figures of 8.5% growth since 2000, the state’s congressional delegation is likely to remain unchanged.

Although the subject is arcane, size matters in Washington.

Not only is the census used to apportion strength in the House of Representatives and the electoral college, but dozens of federal aid programs are linked to population figures.

The possible loss of a congressional seat was cited by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last month in creating a special panel to “make certain everyone is counted so that California gets its fair share of federal dollars and representation in Congress.”

The National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders has called for illegal immigrants to boycott the census to ratchet up the pressure on Congress to overhaul immigration laws, but a number of Latino House members from California have spoken out against a boycott, saying it could cost the state dearly. In its decennial count, the Census Bureau does not consider a person’s legal status.

Ironically, declining home values may deter Californians from selling their homes and leaving the state.

Mary Heim, chief of the state Department of Finance’s demographic research unit, said the number of people moving out of California to other states “may not reach the level of the 1990s because the economic slowdown is nationwide this time and not as concentrated in California as it was in the 1990s.”

Counting Americans Abroad in the 2010 Census

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

In America’s last decennial headcount, Utah was 800 citizens short of gaining a 4th seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. One major factor: Many Mormons from Utah spend time overseas as missionaries and weren’t counted in the 2000 Census. The Salt Lake Tribune reports how that might change this year:

The State Department would be required to team with the Census Bureau to study the best ways to count Americans living oversees under an amendment offered Wednesday by Utah Rep. Jim Matheson.

The House approved Matheson’s amendment on a voice vote, adding it to a State Department budget bill that will now go before the Senate.

The amendment is in reaction to the 2000 census when Utah came about 800 people shy of gaining a fourth U.S. House seat. But the census didn’t count Mormon missionaries in foreign countries, a bone of contention with Utah officials who unsuccessfully sued.

“It is unfair to Utah that the Census Bureau does not count LDS missionaries living overseas,” Matheson said in a statement. “My amendment will put Utah on a path to ultimately get the full representation it deserves.”

The amendment requires the secretary of state, attorney general and the Census Bureau to explore using passports to help overseas Americans vote in elections and be counted in the census, then report back to Congress. The amendment doesn’t set a deadline, making it unclear whether it would have any impact on the upcoming 2010 census, which is far along in the planning stages.

Regardless, Utah is expected to gain at least one House seat once the population figures are tabulated.

Redistricting & The 2010 Census

Monday, April 13th, 2009

Many state legislatures are currently engaged in partisan battles over redistricting prior to the 2010 headcount. Colorado’s Aurora Sentinel reports:

Colorado has never had a shortage of embarrassing moments under the Gold Dome. The Legislature has tried to legislate the slander of vegetables, granted state residents permission to remove tags from pillows and furniture, and make it easier to carry a concealed weapon than it is to rent a car. But lawmakers may at least ward the next embarrassing gaffe off by changing the way the state draws boundaries for congressional and state legislative districts.

State Rep. Mike May, R-Parker, is proposing the state create a single bipartisan panel that has a tie-splitting independent voter to keep things fair.

Republicans have nothing to lose by the change — this time.

In Montana, similar arguments are now dominating the state legislature. Here’s what the Flathead Beacon has to say about redistricting:

HELENA – Even lawmakers’ first steps to begin the once-a-decade process of carving new legislative districts wear the marks of the bitter partisanship that often characterized the process in the past.

Republicans on Thursday released names of their candidates for the commission charged with redrawing legislative districts to reflect new census numbers. And — surprise — all four turned out to be Republicans. Democrats, if history is any indication, almost certainly will pick party stalwarts for their appointments, as well.

This time GOP leaders have thrown a new twist into the process, with a dedicated e-mail for receiving public comment on their candidates. Senate Majority Leader Jim Peterson, R-Buffalo, said the goal is to be more “open and transparent,” but Democrats think otherwise and have no plans to do the same.

“It could get to be a partisan sort of wrangling and that’s not what the commission is supposed to do,” said Senate Minority Leader Carol Williams, D-Missoula, careful to note that she finds all the Republican nominees well-qualified.

State law says Republican and Democratic leadership in the Legislature each may select two commissioners. Those four then are to agree on a fifth member, the chairman. If the appointees deadlock on choosing the tie-breaking chairman, then a decision rests with the Montana Supreme Court.

“I was hopeful the last go round that the four would be able to agree on a chairman,” said retired Chief Justice Karla Gray, who served on the court when it nominated the swing vote in 1999. “I don’t think it’s a responsibility that the court looks forward to, but perhaps that’s just my opinion.”

Stalemates have forced the court to appoint the chairman for bickering lawmakers in three of the four most recent redistricting efforts. And those appointments have in turn led to more partisan bickering, spawning bitter charges of gerrymandering that reverberate for years.


Uh-Oh(io): Will the Buckeye State lose 2 seats in Congress?

Friday, April 10th, 2009

Politicians in Ohio are getting nervous that they may not have jobs in a few years. The Newark Advocate reports, “Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland said the state is in ‘great danger’ of losing two congressional seats after the 2010 Census is completed. Strickland said Thursday he thinks Ohio certainly will lose one member in the U.S. House and chances are strong that it could be two. Ohio was on the brink of losing a representative after the 2000 Census and has since seen its population grow only modestly while many other states have seen much larger gains.” Uh-oh!

In general, as states in the Sun Belt see America’s largest population gains, the rest of the country’s population remains relatively stable or show slight population losses of people who are moving south. On the national stage, Ohio has played a major role in the past two Presidential elections, but that role will surely be diminished if it has fewer electoral votes up for grabs.