New Evidence from Common Cause Partisan Gerrymandering Case Reveals Plot to Add Citizenship Question to 2020 Census for Republican and White Redistricting Advantage  

Previously undisclosed documents obtained by Common Cause in its North Carolina partisan gerrymandering lawsuit were filed today in the federal action challenging the addition a citizenship question to the 2020 Decennial Census. The documents, which were filed by the private plaintiffs in Department of Commerce v. State of New York, reveal for the first time the secret role played by the longtime Republican redistricting expert, the late Dr. Thomas Hofeller, in orchestrating the addition of the citizenship question and the Justice Department’s Voting Rights Act rationale for it. The documents further show that Dr. Hofeller concluded in a 2015 study that the citizenship question would significantly harm the political power of Latino communities and be “advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites.”   

In his 2015 study, Dr. Hofeller concluded that adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census was essential to using only citizens of voting age in redistricting, in lieu of the traditional practice of using total population. He further found that adding the citizenship question, by facilitating the use of only citizens of voting age in redistricting, would cause heavily Latino legislative districts to lose population and allow Republican mapmakers to pack more Democratic voters into those districts.  

The documents filed today further show that, in 2017, Dr. Hofeller helped ghostwrite a letter from the Department of Justice to the Department of Commerce requesting the addition of the citizenship question to the 2020 Census, supposedly to support the Justice Department’s enforcement of the Voting Rights Act.   

These documents were obtained by Common Cause from Dr. Hofeller’s daughter through the discovery process in Common Cause’s anti-gerrymandering lawsuit, Common Cause v. Lewiswhich goes to trial in North Carolina state court in July.   

Statement from Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause: 

“The evidence reveals that the plan to add the citizenship question was hatched by the Republicans’ chief redistricting mastermind to create an electoral advantage for Republicans and non-Hispanic whites. This contradicts testimony by Administration officials that they wanted to add the question to benefit Latino voters, when in fact the opposite was true.”  

Statement from Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause North Carolina:  

Whether it’s rigging the census for partisan gain or manipulating voting maps for the same, that’s wrong and destructive to our democracy.” 

Statement from Kathay Feng, national redistricting director of Common Cause: 

This new evidence shows there was plan to undermine the integrity of our Census, manipulate redistricting and rig the elections for partisan advantage. Hofeller knew that adding the citizenship question to the census would erase millions of Latinos and other Americans from redistricting. Now that the 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.”  

To read the Hofeller filing and documents, click here and here.