Yesterday, the United States Census Bureau released the new apportionment numbers that determine each state’s number of Congressional seats and Electoral College votes. Due to our state’s rapid growth, Texas was expected to pick up three to four new seats in Congress. However, when the final counts were announced, we only received two.
Throughout the census process, Texas’ Republican leaders refused to invest in the necessary resources to ensure every single Texan was counted. Texas was one of only five states that did not establish a “Complete Count Committee” dedicated to the accuracy of the state’s census. Last Session, House and Senate Democrats filed bills and attempted to amend the budget to ensure Texas invested in counting every resident. All these efforts were blocked by the Republican majority.
From the very beginning, we knew our state was particularly at risk of undercounting our neighbors. Nearly 7 million Texans live in “hard to count” neighborhoods. Twenty-five percent of our state was at risk of not being counted because they live in immigrant communities, rural areas or lack a permanent address.
Knowing we were at risk of a considerable undercount, Gov. Greg Abbott and our Republican leaders did nothing. Not only does this come at a financial cost — even a 1 percent undercount is estimated to cost our state $300 million per year — but it also undermines Texans’ right to have their voices heard.
Even worse, when President Trump sought to manipulate the Census by segregating undocumented immigrants in the count, Abbott said nothing while Ken Paxton actively supported Trump to the detriment of Texas.
Texas has gained the most residents of any state over the past decade, and that growth has largely been driven by communities of color. In the past, redistricting maps drawn by Texas Republicans not only ignored the growth of these communities, but they were also found to be intentionally discriminatory. The Republican leadership’s failure to ensure an accurate count has likely cost our state representation in Congress, clout in the Electoral College and valuable federal funds for the next 10 years. Now, despite these failures, we have an obligation as a Legislature to ensure we draw maps that reflect our state’s growing diversity.
All Texans deserve the opportunity to elect their candidates of choice.
|Rep. Chris Turner|
Texas House Democratic Caucus