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2020 Census Failures Cost Red States House Seats and Funds - Wall Street Journal Calls for Investigation

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In 2019, Democrats accused the Trump administration of trying to rig the 2020 Census. But a Census Bureau study released last week shows Republican-led states may have been more negatively affected in terms of both congressional representation and federal funding after the once-a-decade headcount. 

Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Illinois respectively had undercounts of 5%, 4.8%, 4.1%, and 1.9%, while Florida and Texas respectively had undercounts of almost 3.5% and 1.9%.

In both Florida and Texas, undercounts appear to have cost them congressional seats – more about that below.

In a statement, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchison said he was interested in getting more details on his state's undercount, especially since Arkansas grew by more than 95,000 residents over the decade and surpassed 3 million residents for the first time.

Meanwhile, Minnesota was allocated the 435th and final congressional seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. If Minnesota had counted 26 fewer people, that seat would have gone to New York. Minnesota's 3.8% overcount amounted to around 219,000 extra residents.

Other states with overcounts were mostly left-wing, blue states. They include Hawaii, at almost 6.8%; Delaware, at 5.4%; New York, at 3.4%; Utah, at almost 2.6%; Massachusetts, at 2.2%; and Ohio, at almost 1.5%.

Undercounts signal people were missed. Overcounts suggest they were counted more than once, for example, children of divorced parents who share custody or people with vacation homes.

In the remaining 36 states and the District of Columbia, the overcounts and undercounts were not statistically significant.

The figures released Thursday from the Post-Enumeration Survey serve as a report card on how well residents in the 50 states and the District of Columbia were counted during a census. In 2020, the Census blamed the pandemic for causing trouble with the counting. 

States that did a better job of getting residents counted scored greater Electoral College and congressional representation or did not lose expected seats in the House of Representatives. They also are now better positioned for the annual distribution of $1.5 trillion in federal funding in the coming decade.

Nothing can be done at this point to change how many congressional seats are allocated among the states, and the data used for redrawing congressional districts cannot be adjusted.

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Florida and Texas Undercounts 

Florida's undercount translates into around 750,600 missed residents, and an analysis by Election Data Services shows the Sunshine State needed only around 171,500 more residents to gain an extra seat. The undercount in Texas translates into around 560,000 residents, while the analysis put Texas as needing only 189,000 more residents to gain another congressional seat.

Arturo Vargas, CEO of NALEO Educational Fund, told The Associated Press there was a "desperate need" for information about undercounts and overcounts of racial and ethnic groups at geographies smaller than states, especially in places like Texas where the undercount most likely was in the Hispanic population.

Given the inaccuracies in the count, there is a real risk of an unfair distribution of congressional seats among the states, he said. "Without knowing below the state level, we aren't able to understand the extent of that error," Vargas said.

Thursday's release did not break down by demographic traits how good a job the 2020 census did at the state level, but a national report card released in March showed significant undercounts for the Black and Hispanic populations, as well as for those identifying as some other race and American Indians and Native Alaskans living on reservations.

What Happened?

Some critics tried to blame the Trump administration for undercounted immigrant participation due to its effort to add a citizenship question to the census. However, as CBN News reported, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the administration's efforts to add the question in June of 2019, one week before census forms were to be printed. So the question was not on the census form when it was filled out. 

The Census Bureau's own 2010 Post-Enumeration Survey estimated that no states had statistically significant undercounts or overcounts in the 2010 Census. So what happened this time? 

In an op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal on Friday, the newspaper's editorial board asked the question, "Who Rigged the Census?"

"So how did the bureau get the counts so wrong? The bureau blames the pandemic," the board said. 

"But recall that progressives in autumn 2020 sued to kick the reapportionment into the Biden Administration. By law the Census was supposed to be complete by Dec. 31. Yet Democrats claimed that bureaucrats needed more time to do post-survey accuracy checks. They got their way. Whatever accuracy checks the bureau used, they evidently failed," the op-ed continued. 

The WSJ board also said Democrats touted conspiracy theories that the Trump administration was trying to reduce minorities from filling out the forms in order to lessen federal funding. "This may have had a motivating effect as voter suppression accusations sometimes do," the op-ed continued. 

Due to the questionable undercounts and overcounts, the newspaper's editorial board called for an oversight investigation into the Census Bureau. 

"It's too late to change the reapportionment, but the Administration should take the new data into account in federal funding formulas. If Republicans take control of the House, an oversight investigation into the Census seems warranted," the op-ed concluded. 

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