Population equality is the main criteria for creating legislative districts in the US, but many political forces, fortified by the Trump administration, could drastically alter how people are counted and how districts are drawn. The Talking Points Memo article "Trump DOJ Could Effectively Be Reviving A Long-Term Attack On Voting Rights" by Tierney Sneed delves into the issues from court challenges to agency leadership. Social Explorer's Andrew Beveridge comments on the push to add a citizenship question to the census and the ongoing attacks on voting rights. Sneed writes:
An effort by conservatives to move states away from drawing districts using total population — with a lawsuit civil rights advocates said was designed to dilute the political power of minorities — seemed all but dead a year ago, after the Supreme Court ruled 8-0 against their argument.
However, should the Trump Justice Department get its way in a new push to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census, it could breathe new life into the effort. The result could be that some states draw their legislative districts in ways that reduce the voting power of minority communities and boost the power of white ones...
Beveridge explains the impact that redistricting based on citizenship rather than total population could have on districts and voting powers:
Drawing legislative districts so that they equalize according to the number of legal citizens a district has instead of its total population would have huge implications for the political power of areas with a relatively high non-citizen populations, including immigrant communities. An analysis by Andrew Beveridge, a sociologist and demographics expert at CUNY, said that using citizen voting age instead of total population would result in a shift in voting power that would “substantially favor increasing the number of Republican-dominated districts.”
Beveridge told TPM his immediate reaction when he saw the reports about the Justice Department pushing a census citizenship question was, “Well, I think they’ll try Evenwel again.”
“But I don’t think they’ll win,” he added...
He also comments on how this drive to use citizenship status could go back to the courts again:
It’s an extremely long game, but one that would be “holy grail” for the right, as Beveridge put it...
Learn more about our Webby Award-winning Evenwel Supreme Court Case visualization project and companion report here.