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.