redistricting

It’s not just the citizenship question. 2020 census faces other woes
From cybersecurity concerns to untested methods, last-minute hurdles remain

The 2020 census is not the first to face last-minute challenges. Problems with handheld electronics during the 2010 census required the bureau to reintroduce paper enumeration. (Mario Tama/Getty Images file photo)

A project meant to be a decade in preparation, the 2020 census, still faces a number of uncertainties, which experts warn could lead to an inaccurate count with potentially large impacts on federal spending and congressional maps.

Though a pending Supreme Court decision over a citizenship question has dominated much of the conversation surrounding the census, other hurdles include the Census Bureau’s overall funding, cybersecurity concerns and untested methods.

Democrats pounce on citizenship question revelations
Documents show gerrymandering, not Voting Rights Act, was true motivation, Cummings alleges

People protest outside the Supreme Court in April against the Trump administration’s proposal to include a citizenship question in the 2020 census. (Win McNamee/Getty Images file photo)

Democrats on the House Oversight and Reform Committee charged Thursday that new documents cited by an advocacy group show that President Donald Trump added a citizenship question to the 2020 census primarily to give Republicans the upper hand in the next round of congressional redistricting.

The documents, which allegedly show that a Republican strategist pushed the administration to include the question for partisan gain, were revealed amid months of conflict between the committee and the administration that culminated recently in the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division defying a subpoena. They also emerged as the Supreme Court nears a decision on a challenge to the citizenship question.

Supreme Court delays redrawing of Ohio and Michigan House districts
Lower-court rulings found partisan gerrymandering, ordered new maps within months

The Supreme Court on Friday put on hold orders from lower courts for Michigan and Ohio to redraw their congressional maps.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Supreme Court on Friday put a hold on lower-court decisions mandating that Ohio and Michigan draw new congressional maps this year.  

Federal three-judge panels had struck down portions of Michigan’s map and all of Ohio’s map as partisan gerrymanders in separate cases earlier this spring. The court ordered Michigan to draw a new map by Aug. 1, while the Ohio was given a June 14 deadline.

Supreme Court requests response from Ohio and Michigan gerrymander challengers
Justices give challengers a week to respond to requests from GOP state officials to stop court-ordered redrawing of district lines

Anti-gerrymandering activists gather on the steps of the Supreme Court in March 2018 as the justices prepare to hear a case challenging Maryland’s congressional map. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Supreme Court on Monday gave the challengers of congressional maps in Ohio and Michigan until May 20 to respond to requests from state officials to stop court-ordered redrawing of district lines. Lower courts found the maps were partisan gerrymanders, an issue the high court is now considering in two other cases.

Republican lawmakers and officials in both states had argued that they did not have enough time to comply with recent federal court mandates to redraw their districts by June 14 in Ohio and Aug. 1 in Michigan.

Federal court strikes down Ohio congressional map as partisan gerrymander
Republicans last year got 52 percent of the vote, won 12 of 16 districts

Ohio Rep. Rep. David Joyce defeated his Democratic challenger by more than 10 points last fall. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A federal three-judge panel on Friday struck down Ohio’s congressional map as a partisan gerrymander, providing fodder for voting rights advocates seeking a definitive Supreme Court ruling about the way electoral lines are drawn.

The ruling comes a week after a different federal court in Michigan also ordered district lines redrawn to address boundaries that unfairly benefitted one party. In both cases, the maps favored Republicans, and the decisions gave Democrats hope of making inroads in 2020.

Former Illinois Lt. Gov. Eveyln Sanguinetti announces House run in suburban Chicago
Vying to challenge freshman Democrat Sean Casten in key 6th District

Former Illinois Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti is challenging Democratic incumbent Sean Casten in the state’s 6th District. (Courtesy Sanguinetti’s campaign)

Former Illinois Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti announced Monday that she will run for the state’s 6th District, a longtime Republican stronghold captured last year by Democrat Sean Casten

“I really wanted to see Sean Casten be the voice this district needed when he won election last November,” the Republican said at a morning announcement in her hometown of Wheaton, according to a campaign press release. “Unfortunately, all we have is another politician cozying up to progressives and socialists in support of increased taxes and expanded government — when he should be fighting for the district he was sent to represent.”

House gets its say as Supreme Court takes up census citizenship question
Stakes are high as decision could affect how many House seats each state gets

The House general counsel gets 10 minutes to speak to the justices Tuesday on why Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross cannot add the citizenship question to the 2020 census. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House gets a relatively rare chance to directly address the Supreme Court on Tuesday in a legal showdown about whether the Trump administration can add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

The case is one of the most significant for members of Congress during the current Supreme Court term. The census results determine how many House seats each state gets and affect how states redraw congressional districts. The results are also used to distribute billions of dollars from federal programs that are based on population count to state and local governments.

House passes HR 1 government overhaul, sending it back to campaign trail
With Senate not planning to take it up, Democrats plan to continue fight into 2020

Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., led Democrats' effort to draft the HR 1 government overhaul package as chair of the Democracy Reform Task Force. The House passed the measure Friday on a party-line vote. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

With passage of HR 1, House Democrats’ political money, ethics and voting overhaul, the mammoth proposal now heads exclusively to the 2020 campaign trail, where candidates in both parties say they believe their message will woo voters.

The House passed the measure 234-193 Friday morning. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the bill’s foe in chief, has assured his side he plans to officially ignore it in his chamber, refusing to bring it for a vote even as the Kentucky Republican said Wednesday that he believed his party could win elections against people who support it.

Road ahead: HR 1 vote, Cohen returns, senators seek info on Khashoggi, North Korea
House Democrats to vote on top priority, while Senate Republicans continue to confirm judges

Travelers exit Union Station as the Capitol Dome reflects in the glass door on Friday, March 1, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House this week will vote on its marquee bill, HR 1, and haul Michael Cohen back in for more questioning, while senators seek information on the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the latest North Korea summit.

HR 1, formally titled the For the People Act after Democrats’ 2018 campaign slogan, is a government overhaul package featuring changes to voting, campaign finance and ethics laws

Brett Kavanaugh could decide how redistricting is done
Newest justice will be center of attention when court hears gerrymandering cases next month

Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, center, at the State of the Union earlier this month. His views on gerrymandering are a bit of a mystery. (Pool/Doug Mills/The New York Times file photo)

Voters keep voicing their frustration with the politically fraught way that state lawmakers redraw congressional districts every 10 years, and have approved ways to outsource the work with hopes of making fairer maps.

Colorado and Michigan approved ballot measures in November to create independent redistricting commissions to prevent one party from carving up a state in such a way as to entrench itself in office. Missouri approved a plan in which a state demographer and a statistical test will help determine lines. Utah approved the creation of an advisory commission.