This afternoon the United States Census Bureau debuted the first results from the 2020 census, officially announcing that Texas is gaining two congressional seats. The announcement, long delayed due to both decisions from the Trump administration and the COVID-19 pandemic, was a disappointment for many who believed that large population growth in Texas, particularly from communities of color, would have resulted in an additional third seat.
Texas is notably the only state in the country to gain two seats. This also brings the state’s electoral college vote count to 40, just behind California with 52.
Data from the census concerning race, ethnicity, age, and a number of other population factors is expected later in the fall. That information is then used by each state for redistricting. The second delayed census results ensure a special legislative session for redistricting in Texas.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 census was mired in controversy, and even litigation. After the Trump administration failed to require a citizenship question on the census, the U.S. Census Bureau announced last year that in-person visits for the census would end a month early.
The decision by the Trump administration to shorten the counting for the census was criticized by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus, and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, which released a Tri-Caucus Chairs’ statement. “From our perspective, the Trump administration is doing everything in its power to decrease representation and reduce resources for people of color through an incomplete and inaccurate Census count,” said the Tri-Caucus.
In Texas, 54 state representatives signed a letter urging Gov. Abbott to create a Complete Count Committee, citing how much an undercount would impact Texas. The governor did not form the committee.
A week before counting ended, the Texas response to the census was below the national average. Several local democratic leaders launched initiatives to try and boost Texas participation in the census.
In addition to perhaps losing out on an additional congressional seat, even a 1% undercount in Texas could cost the state over $290 million in federal funding, according to a study from the George Washington Institute of Public Policy.
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