The strategist, Thomas Hofeller, was a Republican known as “the Michelangelo of gerrymandering” for his work in creating partisan districts that benefited the GOP. Files on hard drives discovered by his daughter after his death showed that he wrote a 2015 study that found that adding a citizenship question to the census would lead to more Republican-friendly congressional maps..
Files on the drives also showed that he wrote the key portion of a draft letter that the Department of Justice used to maintain, dubiously, that the citizenship question was needed to help enforce the Voting Rights Act. The Times noted that “the disclosures represent the most explicit evidence to date that the Trump administration added the question to the 2020 census to advance Republican Party interests.”
Every 10 years since 1790, the census has counted all the people in the country. The 14th Amendment explicitly states that “Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed.” The word “citizen” does not appear in this provision. The framers’ intent was clear. Apportionment was to be based on a count of all persons — whether they were citizens or not.
Not only did he urge the administration to add the question, he helped cook up the pretext that it was being done to protect voting rights — never mind that the Trump administration has not pursued any cases to protect Hispanic voters. This shady episode further politicizes the census, which is supposed to better our communities, not make some of them invisible.
And consider that the public would likely not know about Hofeller’s involvement in the census question if his daughter had not found his hard drives and given them to an advocacy group, jokingly suggesting that it might find them helpful.
It is a national disgrace that the Trump Administration appears to be using the census as a tool of voter suppression. No matter how the high court rules, there is now even more evidence that the citizenship question was a Republican attempt at a partisan power grab. That the Trump administration would follow Hofeller’s advice speaks to the disregard it has for the census, Latino voters — and our democracy.