Why the 2010 Census Matters: Federal Funding and Voting Rights for Underrepresented Communities

The Constitution of the United States requires that every ten years that we have a count of every person and household in the US while recording certain information about each person, including questions about ethnicity, race, relation to other household occupants, and gender. The 2010 Census will be one of the largest civil projects in the history of the US, employing hundreds of thousands of census workers, all in attempt to make sure that everyone is counted.

WHY THE CENSUS MATTERS

Census counts are directly tied to the federal dollars communities receive for important services such as education funding, affordable housing support, job training, social services, roads, bridges, and other community development opportunities.

Census counts also directly impact a community’s political voice because the numbers inform voting districts and determine how communities are represented. The 2010 Census will trigger a new round of revisions in elected districts across the country. States in the Northeast and Midwest, such as New York and Ohio, stand to lose Congressional Districts and therefore representation. Growing states in the South and Southwest stand to gain seats, while state and local governments throughout the country will be using Census data to shape and reshape districts for partisan political gain. These revisions will have a direct impact on the reservation of and the expansion of underrepresented peoples electoral opportunities and representation for the next decade.

Careful studies of past census counts demonstrate that certain communities are at higher risk of not being counted accurately. These communities include
• Communities and People of Color,
• People and families that live in rental property
• Transient communities, such as the homeless and migrant workers
• Native Americans and poor, rural communities
• Immigrants (census counts are for everyone, regardless of citizenship status)
• The elderly and people who live in group housing


COUNTING EVERYONE

The Southern Coalition for Social Justice has been working for the past months to give Census Outreach Mini-Grants to community organizations in Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Louisiana that are a trusted voice in their communities. The mini-grants are given to organizations for projects which raise awareness of the importance of the census in underrepresented and undercounted communities. Project examples include giving out water bottles with census information in Spanish to migrant farmworkers or performing a bilingual play about the importance of the census at a local community center.

PLANNING A COMMUNITY CENSUS AND REDISTRICTING INSTITUTE

The Southern Coalition for Social Justice, in consultation with the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity, and Gender in the Social Sciences (REGSS) at Duke University’s Social Science Research Institute, has begun the process of creating a Community Census and Redistricting Institute in preparation for the redistricting of local, state, and national electoral districts.

For fair redistricting, underrepresented communities need expert assistance, especially those groups who are protected by the Voting Rights Act, including African Americans, Latin@s, Native Americans, Native Alaskans, and Asian Americans. During the redistricting process, it will be crucial for expert analysts and witnesses to enforce these voting rights provisions and protect and create fair voting districts. As we saw with the historic election of Barack Obama and the large racial differences in voting in the Southeast, where voting rights protections are the strongest, that there is a great need to protect underrepresented population’s voting rights. The work of the Community Census and Redistricting Institute will be to connect these experts and community organizations to stand up and defend minority voting rights.

SCSJ has spearheaded the development of the Community Census and Redistricting Institute. The first meeting, on June 24th in Durham, NC, saw community organizations, geographers, civil rights attorneys, and other leaders in Census work in the Southeast convene and begin this monumental process. Participants studied the importance of a correct census count of those displace by Hurricane Katrina, those who have been displaced by home foreclosure, and how many of these related questions will impact devastated communities. On July 20th, in Atlanta, GA, this gathering of academics, legal experts, community organizations, researchers, and elected officials will continue the development of the Institute.

A fair Census count and redistricting is crucial for political, legal, social, and economic change in the Southeast. As the Southeast has seen a great growth in the Latin@ and African American populations, the Community Census and Redistricting Institute is an important effort towards providing underrepresented voters with the capacity to elect representatives who are responsive to their concerns.

Southern Coalition for Social Justice
Census Bureau

Comments

Underrepsented is better than not at all

To the best of my knowledge this is the first census that will recognize gay couples in lifetime committed relationships as married (whether it be a legal marriage in a state that offers those, or just those who consider themselves married in lieu of actually being able to get married).

Being closeted can be scary for young gay people, and those who are in lifetime committed relationships who aren't open about it may stay closeted on the census because it is easy to be hypertensive about having any documentation around proving you are gay.

Even those who are openly gay & don't feel they need to hide their relationship might not know about this change, and may not know whether being domestic partners means they can mark themselves as married, or if they have had a civil union if they can mark themselves as married, or if they have had a ceremony in a state that doesn't offer any version of marriage if they can mark themselves as married.

It's all really confusing, and coming up quick, and I certainly haven't seen much of an effort made to make it clear so that this underrepresented (previously not represented at all) community even knows how to fill out the census for those who aren't too scared to do so.

Why do you allow outright lies to be posted as topics?

There is no way to explain the opening line of this topic, "The Constitution of the United States requires that every ten years that we have a count of every person and household in the US while recording certain information about each person, including questions about ethnicity, race, relation to other household occupants, and gender. ", as anything other than a lie, falsehood and misrepresentation. The Southern Coalition for Social Justice doesn't raise my appreciation of their efforts when they out and out lie. The U.S. Constitution states in Article I, Section 2 "The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct." That's it. That's all. There is nothing in the Constitution about ethnicity, race, relationships, occupations or gender with regards to the Census. All of that has been added by statute, which can be changed very easily.

"A point in every direction is the same as no point at all" - Pointless Man

I don't think it's a lie

though the sentence could have been more clear by using a comma or a dash to separate the "constitutional" part from the "operational" part.

____________________________________

“Don't tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I'll tell you what you value.”
― Joe Biden

The US Constitution

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.

That's it. You can count the number of free persons or indentured servants, subtract Indians who claim tax exemptions, and add 3/5ths of everyone else (slaves). There are your numbers.

The Census is not to be used for collecting all manner of demographic information. I told I had to answer the long form when the last census came around. They only answer they got out of me was "One person lives here".

Of course, it's not like the Constitution is worth anything other than toilet paper these days.

Don't be ridiculous

The Constitution is silent on the issue of how the Census is managed and what it's used for.

You seem proud of your refusal to cooperate with the Census. That's a shame. Reliable census data are enormously useful for making a wide range of public policy decisions ranging from emergency services, healthcare, transportation planning, infrastructure planning, family services, education policy and more.

____________________________________

“Don't tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I'll tell you what you value.”
― Joe Biden

ridiculous? silent?

How:

Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.

Management:

Manner as they (Congress) shall by Law direct.

Uses:

Representatives and direct Taxes

Yes. Ridiculous and silent.

There is nothing in the Constitution or elsewhere that limits the Census to the elements you've outlined. I've searched hard for the word "only" in hopes of finding evidence of expressed prohibitions against using Census data to inform other policy debates, but, alas, it appears to be missing.

The delineation of "free persons" and "all other persons" you've quoted would seem sufficient to underscore the irrelevance of your narrow reading.

____________________________________

“Don't tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I'll tell you what you value.”
― Joe Biden

GPS that Dog and get his name?

You seem proud of your refusal to cooperate with the Census. * James

Does the term "Police State" ring your old Census marketing research brain? If a Census Taker is GPS's your property, whether you like it or not get your attention?

They can GPS my elbow and it wouldn't bother me

I have no objection to straight up, transparent surveys. It's the BushCo model of secret surveillance that disturbs me.

____________________________________

“Don't tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I'll tell you what you value.”
― Joe Biden

Census Detention Camps? It wouldn,t happen in America? Right?

They can GPS my elbow and it wouldn't bother me* James

Of course it wouldn't bother you, but if they [ whoever they is?] decide to shove a real GPS micro-chip up you rear.

Who do you call?

1. Ghostbusters?
2. The CIA?
3. Homeland Security 800 number?
4. Dick Cheney new address in Dubia?
5. Delta Force in Iran?
6. WWA [World Wrestling Assocation]?
7. The Pope?
8. The Republican Party?
9. Goldman For Gosh Sakes, not again?
10. Billy Bob Thorton in Eagle Eye?

In the early part of 1942 over 800,000 American Japaness Citizens were sent to American POW dentention camps as " Enemies of the State " by data from the 1940 Census without reguard to the Bill of Rights, nor was legal constitutional due process given to them......In early part of the 1980's. The government of the United States offer a resolution in Congress for the Police State affair and a settlement of 20,000 dollars to each family who were imprisoned during the war time.