New article by Christopher T. Kenny et al., in Science Advances. Abstract:
Census statistics play a key role in public policy decisions and social science research. However, given the risk of revealing individual information, many statistical agencies are considering disclosure control methods based on differential privacy, which add noise to tabulated data. Unlike other applications of differential privacy, however, census statistics must be postprocessed after noise injection to be usable. We study the impact of the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest disclosure avoidance system (DAS) on a major application of census statistics, the redrawing of electoral districts. We find that the DAS systematically undercounts the population in mixed-race and mixed-partisan precincts, yielding unpredictable racial and partisan biases. While the DAS leads to a likely violation of the “One Person, One Vote” standard as currently interpreted, it does not prevent accurate predictions of an individual’s race and ethnicity. Our findings underscore the difficulty of balancing accuracy and respondent privacy in the Census.
Wall Street Journal:
A plan to protect the confidentiality of Americans’ responses to the 2020 census by injecting small, calculated distortions into the results is raising concerns that it will erode their usability for research and distribution of state and federal funds.
The Census Bureau is due to release the first major results of the decennial count in mid-August. They will offer the first detailed look at the population and racial makeup of thousands of counties and cities, as well as tribal areas, neighborhoods, school districts and smaller areas that will be used to redraw congressional, legislative and local districts to balance their populations.
And from NPR, “For The U.S. Census, Keeping Your Data Anonymous And Useful Is A Tricky Balance”
Government Executive has corrected its story on DOJ’s decision not to prosecute Wilbur Ross, now noting that the decision not to prosecute was made in the previous administration. The original ELB post has also been updated to note this correction.
Government Executive reports. [UPDATE: this correction has been appended to the report: After publication of this story, the Justice Department and Commerce Department inspector general revealed additional information to indicate the declination to prosecute took place during the Trump administration. This story has been corrected to note this information.]
Dean Vik Amar and Professor Jason Mazzone, both of the University of Illinois, have a two part series (one, two) at Justia’s “Verdict” on McConchie v. Illinois State Board of Elections, a challenge to Illinois’s redistricting plan. From the opening of the second piece:
In this—the second—installment in our series on McConchie v. Illinois State Board of Elections, in which Republican Minority Leaders in the Illinois General Assembly (in their official capacity and as registered voters) challenge in federal court the constitutionality of the apportionment of state legislative districts that the General Assembly and the Governor recently enacted, we focus on remedies. Our prior discussion flagged standing and ripeness hurdles the plaintiffs will need to overcome in order to get to the merits of their claim. And as to the merits themselves, we expressed doubts about whether the plaintiffs should and will prevail in their argument that because the Illinois legislature used a population survey rather than (traditionally) more reliable but not yet available decennial census results based on the 2020 national count, the enacted redistricting plan violates the one-person, one-vote requirement of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Yet even if the federal courts were to agree that the plaintiffs have overcome the justiciability hurdles and that they have established a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, we are skeptical that it would be proper for the courts to grant the remedies the plaintiffs are seeking.
A federal judge has dismissed Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s lawsuit that sought to force the U.S.
Census Bureau to provide its results by a March 31 legal deadline, six months earlier than Census officials said was possible.
Judge Thomas M. Rose cited legal precedent he said barred him from ordering someone to “jump higher, run faster, or lift more than she is physically capable.”
The court’s ruling is here.
Disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic and last-minute changes by the Trump administration, the U.S. Census Bureau announced Wednesday that the release of the first results of the 2020 census will likely be delayed by four months.
The latest state population counts used to determine each state’s share of votes in the House of Representatives and the Electoral College for the next decade are now expected by April 30.
Those numbers were legally due by the end of last year. But the bureau missed that deadline last month for the first time since it was put in place in 1976. Career civil servants postponed releasing the counts in order to try to fix irregularities they began uncovering in census records shortly after Trump officials ended counting early in October…
The release date for the congressional apportionment counts has been in flux for weeks. As part of a National Urban League-led lawsuit over the Trump administration’s census schedule changes, Justice Department attorneys previously told a federal judge that the bureau was working towards finishing the processing of census records by March 6.
But that timeline was “not taking into account what we expect to find when we do data processing, which is anomalies that need to be corrected,” Styles said. “We have found anomalies, we will likely find more anomalies, and we will fix additional anomalies as we find them.”
The timing for the second set of new census results — the detailed demographic data that state redistricting officials need to redraw voting districts — remains unclear. That information is normally delivered to the states by the end of March.
“You should not expect it prior to July 30,” Styles said.
The delay ratchets up the pressure for states that are facing their own series of legal deadlines for the redistricting process in order to hold elections this year or next.
Politico: Redistricting Delay Freezes House Races