Yesterday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing on the proposed inclusion of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census. The League believes including such a question in the 2020 Census will cause participation to plummet. An accurate Census count is too important to threaten the results with this political move.
Getting an accurate count in the 2020 Census is critical to all American communities. Census data is not only used to draw state and congressional districts based on population, but it is also used by local governments to plan for public safety and grow economic opportunities. Having an undercount of persons in a given area could result in inadequate disaster responders, insufficient resources for transportation, education and impacts to the overall health and safety of communities.
The last time the Census included a question about citizenship was in 1950. It has not been included since the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA). There is no justification to the Department of Justice’s claims that adding a citizenship question is necessary to enforce the VRA.
It is up to Congress to exercise oversight authority over the Census Bureau. The League was pleased that the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing on this issue yesterday. We commend Chairman Gowdy and Ranking Member Cummings for inviting those responsible for administering the Census to discuss this question and determine the impact it will have on communities around the country.
We were also disappointed that the key Justice Department official invited, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, John Gore, was a no-show at the committee meeting. We look forward to the continuation of the hearing on May 18th and we support Chairman Gowdy’s decision to subpoena Gore if necessary.
The League will continue to fight to ensure that all persons are counted in the 2020 Census. And we’ll continue to update you on the inclusion of this untested citizenship question as Congress moves forward with their hearing schedule.
Director of Advocacy and Litigation
League of Women Voters of the United States
P.S. Stand with us as we call on Congress to take action to correct this issue before it’s too late.