Common Cause has obtained evidence confirming how political operatives have spent years plotting to rig our democracy with a Census citizenship question.
First, the New York Times publicized this shocking study, written by the GOP’s chief gerrymandering mastermind Thomas Hofeller, that laid out a plan to add the citizenship question to the Census. The purpose? Manipulating our Census and redistricting process to be, in Hofeller’s words, “advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites.”
Then we found evidence that Hofeller communicated with a top Census official about citizenship when the department was preparing to re-engineer the 2020 census.
Together, the documents undermined the Trump Administration’s explanation for why it wanted to add the citizenship question to the 2020 census. In July, the administration abandoned its attempt to add the question, after being blocked by the Supreme Court.
Now the Hofeller files could reveal the extent of the gerrymandering schemes that Hofeller was involved in across the country.
In early September, a Wake County Superior Court ruling stated the Hofeller files provided direct evidence of his interest in maximizing Republicans’ advantage in the 2017 legislative maps in North Carolina. The three-judge panel gave the state legislature two weeks to redraw new maps and mandated a fully transparent process.
We know from our national redistricting advocacy that Hofeller orchestrated gerrymandering in multiple
states, including Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. We believe that there is additional evidence that needs to come forward about the partisan motives and vote-stealing conducted in other states. A decision on whether to release additional Hofeller documents to the public is expected in mid-September.
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Back in 2015, a Republican operative named Thomas Hofeller — once called “the Michelangelo of the modern gerrymander” — was hired by a Republican megadonor to conduct a study: what if the rules of redistricting were changed to draw legislative districts based on the number of voting citizens living in them, not the total number of people living in a state?
Hofeller recognized this change would be a “radical departure from the federal ‘one person, one vote’ rule presently used in the United State[s].”
Hofeller even recognized that it would be hard to convince the Supreme Court to mandate this change, unless… they could figure out how to add a citizenship question on the upcoming 2020 Census.
Then, in the next round of redistricting, the plan was for Republicans to use that citizenship data to supercharge their partisan gerrymandering strategy: excising a large number of Americans out of redistricting altogether, and packing the remaining Democrats and voters of color into as few districts as possible.
Hofeller’s documents are a “smoking gun” — exposing exactly how he and his fellow operatives worked to undermine the integrity of our Census, manipulate redistricting, and rig the elections for partisan advantage.
Now that their plan has been revealed, it’s important for all of us – the courts, leaders, and the people – to stand up for a democracy that includes every American voice.