Dear Journal: People count, and the Constitution says count all of them

  • Sat Jul 25th, 2020 1:30am
  • News

Editor’s note: Karen Harris Tully is a writer who lives in Raymond and has agreed to keep a journal to share with Daily World readers during the odd and uncertain time we’re all navigating.

Dear Journal,

My husband filled out our Census a while ago. It probably seems boring to most, but my first question was, “was that citizenship question on there?” No, it wasn’t. But we now know more about why the President wanted that question on there. This week, he signed a memo for the U.S. to NOT count undocumented immigrants (as can be found with state IDs.) But only citizens get to vote, so what’s the deal?

The U.S. Constitution in Article 1, Section 2, says a count of all persons must be made every ten years—the U.S. Census. So, the Census has to count EVERYONE living in the U.S., and always has (except for some racist beginnings until 1890 that I won’t get into here). So, why the debate, and why now?

Our President wants to stop counting ALL people. Why? If the population is undercounted, what’s the big deal? It’s a political game, of course. An undercount benefits Republicans. It’s possible some blue states could get fewer representatives to Congress. Minnesota was already in danger of losing a Congressional seat for example. But it’s also about money, and where district lines are drawn. The Census count is how federal funding gets decided.

Areas of the country with large numbers of undocumented immigrants (Washington) will get counted as having smaller than actual populations. And this tends to be Democratically held states, but also farming communities. Cities will get fewer representatives, not just to Congress, but locally to City Councils too. Northern Minneapolis lost two city council seats in 2010.

So, why do I care? Because equality. I want EVERYONE to be counted, dammit, ALL people living in the U.S. Sorry to swear, but I don’t want our cities and state to lose funding for schools, hospitals, roads, Medicaid and other programs. The Census is supposed to be a count of ALL people living in the U.S. It says so in the Constitution and I don’t think we should change that now to benefit one political party or the other. Also, please fill out your Census.

Song of the day: Everyday People, Sly and the Family Stone

Karen Harris Tully is a novelist living in Raymond with her husband and two small children. She writes sci-fi/fantasy for teens and adults and can be found at www.karenharristully.com.