NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 11, 2009

Next year's census will determine the apportionment of House members and Electoral College votes for each state.  To accomplish this, the enumeration should count only citizens and persons who are legal, permanent residents.  But it won't.  Instead, the U.S. Census Bureau is set to count all persons physically present in the country -- including large numbers who are here illegally, say John Baker, professor of law at Louisiana State University, and Elliott Stonecipher, Louisiana pollster and demographic analyst.

The problem stems from the type of census form used:

  • In 1790, the first Census Act provided that the enumeration would count all "inhabitants."
  • By 1980, there were two census forms: the shorter form went to every person physically present in the country and the longer form gathered socioeconomic information including citizenship status, but it went only to a sample of U.S. households.
  • But in 2010, only the short form will be used.

This makes a real difference, say Baker and Stonecipher. Take California for example:

  • With 5,622,422 noncitizens in its population of 36,264,467, California would have 57 members in the newly reapportioned U.S. House of Representatives.
  • However, with noncitizens not included for purposes of reapportionment, California would have 48 House seats.
  • Using a similar projection, Texas would have 38 House members with noncitizens included; with only citizens counted, it would be entitled to 34 members.
  • States certain to lose one seat are Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
  • States likely (though not certain) to lose a seat are Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri and Ohio could lose a second seat.

Moreover, the census has drifted far from its constitutional roots, and the 2010 enumeration will result in a malapportionment of Congress, say Baker and Stonecipher.

Source: John S. Baker and Elliott Stonecipher, "Our Unconstitutional Census," Wall Street Journal, August 9, 2009.

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