Dead Man's Hard Drives Add Surprise Census Wrinkle

Critics say GOP strategist's work shows citizenship question is about helping Republicans
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted May 31, 2019 12:40 PM CDT

(Newser) – The Supreme Court is expected to rule in a matter of weeks on whether the Trump administration can add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. Now, however, a new wrinkle has emerged on the whole issue in an unusual way—via the hard drives of a deceased Republican strategist. Critics say the hard drives provide evidence for what they've been saying all along, that the citizenship question is a thinly disguised attempt to suppress minority voters and help white Republicans. The Justice Department says that's ridiculous. The Supreme Court has been informed of the new development, but whether it will play a role in justices' deliberations remains unclear. The details:

  • The strategist: The GOP's Thomas Hofeller is described by the New York Times as the "Michelangelo of gerrymandering, the architect of partisan political maps that cemented the party's dominance across the country." He died last August, and his estranged daughter, Stephanie Hofeller Lizon, recovered his hard drives.
  • His work: The hard drives, which his daughter gave to the advocacy group Common Cause, detail Hofeller's research in Texas. He concluded that if new voting maps were based not on population but more specifically on the number of American citizens of voting age, they "would be advantageous to Republicans and non-Hispanic whites." And they "would clearly be a disadvantage to the Democrats," he wrote, per the Washington Post.

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