The Census Bureau says it can obtain the data President Trump will need to facilitate a game-changing, GOP-boosting redistricting overhaul. The outside experts who work with redistricting data aren’t so sure.
Having failed in his attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, Trump resorted to what amounts to a backup plan: an executive order commanding the Census Bureau to use existing government records to come up with citizenship data.
The overhaul is part of a broad effort to let states exclude noncitizens in how they draw legislative maps, which would increase representation for Republican-leaning whites, while diminishing the political power of diverse, immigrant-friendly communities.
The Census Bureau told Congress recently that it would be producing the kinds of citizenship data that would let red states exclude noncitizens from consideration in redistricting. However, redistricting experts and outside census wonks TPM spoke to in the last few weeks raised several concerns about the accuracy of the citizenship data the Census Bureau will be producing.
Doubts about the accuracy and validity of the census data could open lines of legal attack on redistricting efforts that rely on the data, foreshadowing a new wave of redistricting challenges in 2021.
“It is, I think, a very big question and whether or not this thing could really be pulled off,” Kimball Brace, president of Election Data Services Inc. told TPM.