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The Census and Democracy: Maryland Fixes a Major Error

by Elena Lavarreda, April 14, 2010  

Eric Lotke wrote an outstanding piece today highlighting our recent victory in Maryland, while managing to locate the issue in the ongoing national struggle to fix the Census miscount. His article was featured on the DailyKos, Huffington Post, Campaign for America’s Future and other outlets.

Lotke’s clear demonstration of the long lasting and damaging effect of prison-based gerrymandering on democracy is profound. When discussing discussing the racial and ethnic impact of the Census miscount, he states:

“These numbers are too high for all kinds of reasons — but the impact on redistricting carves it into the bones of our democracy.”

Despite our victory in Maryland, Lotke is right to point out where the Census has faltered and what states can do to make sure they draw fair and equal districts:

Still, the Census Bureau has stubbornly refused to change its rules and count people in prison in the location that they come from and return to. It has conceded for the 2010 census to release its micro data early enough that states and counties who choose to can reassess prison jurisdictions in time for reapportionment. But Maryland sets a new standard by taking matters into its own hands. Technical matters of implementation will need to be worked out (they have ten years!) but the law states a clear legislative intent. Constituents are not exportable commodities.

3 Responses

  1. Prisoners and the 2010 Census: New Developments | All Things Census says, 16 hours, 45 minutes after publication:

    [...] bill was praised in a New York Times editorial and by Prisoners of the Census, a blog run by the Prison Policy Initiative, an organization that has advocated for changing the way [...]

  2. Rickey Moore says, 1 day, 4 hours after publication:

    It’s about time that someone finally figured out that the locales that hold prisoners are not their primary voting district. They’ll require programs post-release to get them on to their feet, towards becoming full-fledged tax paying citizens. The rural areas, where prisoners are kept, are not in this loop. They get the prisons, the jobs and the supply of utilities and services to the prisons. But, to receive the benefit of being counted as voters, when they cannot vote, and as residents, when they are being kept against their will, is just a pure pork-barrel move. Thank you, Maryland, for seeing past this nonsense.

  3. Prisoners and the 2010 Census: New Developments | Pew Social & Demographic Trends says, 11 months after publication:

    [...] bill was praised in a New York Times editorial and by Prisoners of the Census, a blog run by the Prison Policy Initiative, an organization that has advocated for changing the way [...]

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