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An accurate count of all people is important for the distribution of funds and representation in government. Be sure you and your friends are counted.

I count, you count, we all count. Yo cuento, tu cuentas, todos contamos

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Census 2020

The Census and Redistricting Committee Chair, Joan Ridley, provided this update on November 6, 2020: 

 

Census taking was completed, prematurely, on October 15, 2020 by order of President Trump.  It was originally due to end on October 31st. Ending prematurely resulted in Census takers making assumptions that might not be accurate.


The Census Report with 
apportionment counts is due to be delivered to President Trump by December 31, 2020, per the US Constitution.   The Census Bureau had requested an extension of the due date to April 30, 2020, due to the extra time needed to prepare the Report due to COVID-19.  That would have created a narrow window for Texas Legislators to draw the voting district maps before the end of the 87th session.


There has been extensive litigation regarding the 2020 census.  A case will be heard at the US Supreme Court on November 30, 2020.  President Trump has ordered that all persons in the US illegally not be counted.  The case, if heard, will decide whether or not persons in the US illegally will be included in the US Census. According to the US Constitution, all persons living in the US are to be counted.  


Although the response rate to the 2020 US Census is 99% nationally, the self- response rate in Dallas County is 63.9%, the lowest of the four most populous counties in North Texas.  
Self-response rates reflect households that responded to the census online, by mail or by phone. These response rates do not include households that were visited in person by census workers and are not the official census counts. Dallas had a lower self-response rate to the 2020 Census than the previous 2010 census.  An undercount of the population has at least two important implications: 1) Texas might not receive an additional number of seats in the US House of Representatives.  Based on estimates if the entire population were counted, Texas could receive an increase from 36 of 39 seats; and 2) Texas would not receive benefits that are based on the total population.


Historically, the Census Report has been released to the public at the same time that it has been released to the President. However, according to a spokesperson for the Bureau, it is likely that the 2020 Census Report will be released to the media prior to being sent to President Trump.

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Every ten years, a count of all people living in the USA takes place to determine the distribution of funds to cities, schools, and hospitals as well as defining districts for U.S., Texas, and local government representation.  If you haven't already completed the short census for your household, please click here for official US census site. 

The census is required by the U.S. Constitution. 

Earlier News on Timing of Completion of the Census:

September 24, 2020:  A federal judge has ordered that the 2020 Census continue until Oct. 31, blocking for now the government’s efforts to complete the survey in time to deliver apportionment data to the president by the end of the year. The ruling was issued late Thursday night by US District Judge Lucy Koh of the Northern District of California.  


October 9, 2020: The Trump administration has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to put on hold U.S. District Judge Koh’s order to continue census taking until October 31st.  Wilbur Ross, United States Secretary of Commerce,  has indicated there is no need to continue to take the census because there has been a 99% response rate nationwide.  However, the response in several states has been far below 99% so the overall results will be inaccurate.

You can read the City of Dallas Memorandum from October 9th on the Extension of the Census.


To learn more about the census and its impact, please click the links below:


The official government website of the United States Census 2020
About the Census from LWV-US
About the Census from LWV-Texas
Dallas County's 2020 Census
Dallas County Counts 2020 in partnership with the City of Dallas



 The Census and Redistricting 

Understanding Redistricting and Gerrymandering 

Summary Prepared and Updated by Joan Ridley,  LWVD Member,  September 21, 2020

Please Note:  

The voting district map drawing timeline is dependent on when the Census Report is made available, and, that due to multiple pending court cases about the census, that delivery date is unknown.

Gerrymandering

  • Under the US Constitution, the national government must conduct a new population census every ten years.  States then redraw (“redistricting”) congressional, state and local voting districts on the basis of population changes.  States losing or gaining populations will lose or gain congressional seats and Electoral College delegates.
  • Gerrymandering  in Texas is an extreme form of redistricting.  It is the process of drawing voting district lines by the state legislators in closed secret meetings without voters’ input or knowledge, and, whose purpose is to favor the majority party so that it will remain in office for the next 10 years, if not for decades.
  • Racial Gerrymandering is unlawful per the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
  • Partisan Gerrymandering is not unlawful.
  • There have been numerous court cases throughout the US to end partisan Gerrymandering.   The   League of Women Voters has frequently been the plaintiff or co-plaintiff.
  • The US Supreme Court has taken the position that it will not render a decision on partisan Gerrymandering cases. Therefore, any changes in how the voting district lines will be drawn is left to each state.
  • Texas is the 7th most Gerrymandered state in the US. (1)
  • Texas currently has 36 seats in the US House.
  • Based on US Census Bureau’s estimates of a shift in population, Texas could receive three or more additional seats in the US House as a result of the 2020 census, bringing our total representation to 39 seats or more.
  • As a result of Gerrymandering based on the 2010 Census, the percentage of US House seats actually won by Republicans versus Democrats, exceeded the percentage of actual votes by Republicans and Democrats in recent elections. (2)


  • The Process  (Please refer to the Texas Legislative Council link below for a text version of the Process of drawing the maps for Texas.)

  • The Census Report is to be sent to the President of the US by 12/31/20. It is then sent to the states by April 30, 2021. Historically, Texas Legislators have received the census sometime in February. The voting district lines will be drawn by the state legislator based on the 2020 Census Report.
  • Redistricting bills must be filed by the legislators by March 12, 2021.

 

Notes Regarding the 2020 Census


Several issues could have a negative impact on the level of representation of all Texans, and, the extent to which Texans qualify for benefits.  Litigation is on-going as follows:

 

  • There could be a change in the actual delivery date of the Census Report from April 30th to between April 30th and July 31st, 2021.
  • The current White House administration has taken steps to avoid counting every person who lives in the US from being counted, as mandated by the US Constitution.  President Trump has withdrawn his Executive Order.
  • The current White House administration has taken steps to shorten due date of the census taking to September 30th, instead of at the end of October 2020, thereby possibly omitting many Texans from being counted.   Due to a recent court order, the Census Bureau will continue with census taking pending the results of a hearing which was recently postponed from September 17th to a later date.
  • The only requirement for the state voting district lines is that they must be contiguous for both the Texas Senate and House districts.  The Texas State House lines must also follow county boundaries whenever possible.

  • There is no provision for public input or hearings at this time.   However, due to the activism of the nonpartisan organization, Fair Maps Texas, field hearings presided over by the Texas House Redistricting Committee were scheduled to take place in several cities and towns throughout Texas. They were very well attended with numerous people offering testimony. These field hearings have been suspended due to COVID-19.  The House Redistricting Committee is unable to continue to hold these field hearings on-line due to procedural rules.  Fair Maps Texas is in communication with members of the House who are exploring other options that would make it possible to resume the hearings that could be open to the public.  Fair Maps Texas is making plans for the restart of interim hearings by the House and Senate Redistricting Committees.  It is not known at this time whether the committees will begin hearings, either virtually or in person.  Meanwhile LWV Texas is filing an amicus brief jointly with LWV CA and LWV FL in the case that ACLU is bringing against the federal government’s proposal to not count undocumented immigrants in the 2020  census.
  • The Governor will sign or veto the voting district plan that is passed by the legislators by June 20, 2021.  
  • If the Legislature does not adopt a plan by the end of the regular legislative session (end of May), the voting district lines will be re-drawn and then voted on and approved by the Legislative Redistricting Board (LRB), which is appointed by the governor, and submitted to the Secretary of State.  The LRB is comprised of:  Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Commissioner of the General Land Office, the Comptroller of Public Accounts, and the House Majority leader.
  • If the Census Report is not received before the end of the session, the LRB will be required to assemble within 90 days of the 87th legislative regular session adjournment.  It then has 60 days afterward to submit a plan. (3)

US Congressional Districts

  • The Texas State Legislature draws the voting district lines for the US Congressional voting districts (the plan).
  • There are no requirements regarding the shape of the voting districts.
  • There is no deadline for completion of the drawing and adoption of the plan.
  • The Governor can veto the plan.
  • The Governor can call a special session of the Texas Legislature to approve the plan.

Resources:

www.commoncause.org

https://redistricting.capitol.texas.gov/2020s#print-timeline-section  

www.brennancenter.org

 

  1. Azavea, a Philadelphia-based firm places Texas at number 5.  Brennan Center for Justice places it at number 6. Christopher Ingraham, a data specialist previously with the Brookings Institute and the pew Research Center and now with the Washington Post’s Wonkblog section, places it at number 7.  Where Texas ranks in any study depends on the methodology of the study.
  2. Illustration:


3.  Due to pending litigation of census issues, the actual dates for the drafting of, and signing into law of, the voting district plans are uncertain.   

 

Note: Special thanks to David Jones, President of Clean Elections, and, Tracy Westen, Member of the National Board of Directors of Common Cause, for reviewing the above and offering their comments.