Home Census SPAKOVSKY: The federal government’s failed census is bad news for red states. here’s why

SPAKOVSKY: The federal government’s failed census is bad news for red states. here’s why


If a Florida politician decides to run for president in 2024, his home state will be two votes short of the Electoral College, and when the new session of the United States House of Representatives convenes in January 2023, Florida will miss two congressional seats to which he is entitled.

Why? Because according to a 2020 post-census survey, the US Census Bureau significantly underestimated the population of Florida, as well as that of Arkansas, Illinois, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas. At the same time, he overestimated the population of eight states, all but one of which is a blue state. (RELATED: ORTIZ: Here’s an economic story no one in the White House wants to talk about)

The 2020 errors were discovered when the Census Bureau surveyed a large number of households across the country and compared the responses it obtained to the original census responses in 2020. In addition to undercounting six states, the investigation showed that the Bureau had overestimated Delaware’s population. , Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island and Utah.

Funny coincidence – the census made its biggest percentage overcount error in President Joe Biden’s tiny state of Delaware, which was overcounted by 5.45%. But Rhode Island and Minnesota were also overcounted by 5.05% and 3.84%, respectively, allowing each of them to retain a congressional seat to which they are not entitled.

Minnesota, according to the original census report, would have lost a congressional seat in the redistribution if it had had 26 fewer residents; the survey shows that the state was overrated by 216,971 people. Similarly, Rhode Island would have lost a seat if the Census Bureau had counted 19,000 fewer residents. It turns out that the state was overrated by more than 55,000 individuals.

Thus, both states will continue to have more representation in Congress and more votes in the Electoral College than they should. The same goes for Colorado, which was given a new congressional seat it shouldn’t have gotten.

Compare that with Texas, which the Census Bureau survey found was underestimated by almost 2%. That’s over half a million Texans, which means that, like Florida, Texas was deprived of an additional member of Congress. At that time, the Census Bureau said Texas needed only 189,000 more people to secure another seat in Congress. Turns out Texas already had them.

Arkansas had the highest percentage of undercount at 5.04%, which accounted for more than 150,000 residents of the state.

These Census Bureau errors also mean that overstated states will receive a larger share of the more than $1.5 trillion in federal funds that will be distributed to states over the next decade based on their states’ populations. What about underrated states? They will receive less funding than they should.

There is no remedy in federal census and apportionment laws to correct this problem. The magnitude of this problem was unusually high, and the Census Bureau offered no explanation as to how it happened.

For comparison, the survey conducted by the Census Bureau after the 2010 census showed a statistically insignificant error rate of only 0.01%, meaning the Bureau only missed counting 36,000 Americans. A rather surprising difference compared to the 2020 census.

Even if the most affected states could win a case in court, how would you find a remedy? Ordering the Census Bureau to conduct another actual recount in the 14 affected states would be a complex and costly undertaking that would provide numbers at a different date than the original census whose total population as of April 1, 2020 would still be in effect. for the rest. States, raising fundamental questions of equity given the great mobility of our population. And ordering a new nationwide census also seems impractical.

But there is no doubt that Congress needs to get to the bottom of what happened. It should use its oversight authority to investigate the Census Bureau, its methods, procedures, and operations to determine how and why these errors occurred. We must ensure that the necessary changes are made so that this does not happen again.

Hans A. von Spakovsky is a Senior Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation and a former attorney for the Department of Justice and Commissioner of the FEC. He is the co-author of “Our Shattered Election: How the Left Changed the Way You Vote.” His new Heritage study on census errors, “Census Bureau Errors Distort Congressional Representation for the States,” can be found at heritage.org.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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