Heading into the 2020 census, much of the focus had rested on concerns over whether or not illegal immigrants were being counted as then-President Donald Trump endeavored to include a citizenship question. The president’s effort had been thwarted, but a recent review of the over and undercounts across the nation revealed a considerable break in our representative government beyond even Trump’s concerns.
Following the release of the census data, the Census Bureau conducted its Post-Enumeration Survey (PES) and determined of the 331.5 million Americans, there had been a relatively small net undercount nationwide of 0.24 percent, or roughly 780,000 people. The trouble, as presented by former commissioner on the Federal Election Commission and senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation Hans von Spakovsky, is that net undercount was the means of considerable errors at the state level.
“In addition to undercounting six states,” von Spakovsky wrote, “the survey showed that the Bureau overcounted the population of Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island and Utah.”
“Funny coincidence,” he went on, “the Census made its largest overcount percentage error in President Joe Biden’s tiny home state of Delaware, which was overcounted by 5.45%. But Rhode Island and Minnesota were also overcounted by 5.05% and 3.84%, respectively, which allowed each of them to keep a congressional seat to which they are not entitled.”
The data also found that Colorado was awarded a new seat that it should not have been given whereas several traditionally red states did not get the new representation that the Constitution requires. From largest to smallest undercounts, the survey found Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Florida, Illinois and Texas were each shorted from 5.04 percent down to just under two percent.
However, compared to the roughly five percent overcount in Minnesota that amounted to 216,971 people, Texas’ undercount comprised over half a million voters.
Making matters worse, writing for Newsweek, Claremont Institute fellow Ben Weingarten detailed how the Ensuring a Fair and Accurate Census Act that passed a House vote and has been referred to Senate committees will make it “more difficult for a future administration to reinstate the citizenship question, and further [insulate] the Bureau from accountability to any president.”
As presented, the bill aims to prohibit the inclusion of any question that was not submitted to Congress and requires a review conducted by the Government Accountability Office to determine whether the desired research, studies and test had been performed on the question to the liking of Congress.
Meanwhile, as the most recent census results will present a lasting impact for the next decade pertaining to representation in Congress, the Electoral College results and the distribution of $1.5 trillion in federal funds, there has been no clamor for answers as to how the count was off so egregiously when just a decade earlier the error had been only 0.01 percent; roughly 36,000 people.
“This episode,” Weingarten suggested, “also illustrates the folly in removing administrative state entities like the Census Bureau still further from accountability to the voters by way of their representatives, up to and including the president.”
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