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ENEWS: Census, redistricting, and voting restrictions

Date Published: 05/06/2021

Author: Jane Leonard and Erin Wilson

Growth & Justice and the census 

Amidst the hoopla last month of Minnesota emerging as #1 in the country in the census count and saving our congressional seat, we cracked a big smile here at G & J, having been an active participant in the “We Count” campaign and other efforts of the Minnesota Census Mobilization Partnership.  G & J President Jane Leonard has served on the Minnesotans for the American Community Survey and 2020 Census (MACS 2020) executive board for the past two years. MACS 2020 is a coalition of Minnesota leaders, policy and decision makers, business and development planners, forecasters, housing and social service providers, educators, and engaged citizens. Its mission is to educate Minnesota's members of Congress about the critical importance of census data to drive a strong economy and improve the well-being of all Minnesotans. We continue to support this effort into 2021 and beyond.

Census, redistricting, and voter suppression 

Last week, the Census Bureau announced the first round of data from the 2020 Census, prompting the calculation of how many congressional seats each state will have for the next ten years. As the New York Times reports in the article linked above, this year’s census was “one of the most embattled in decades” due to a combination of factors, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and former President Donald Trump’s efforts to leave out unauthorized immigrants in the data collection. The article underlines that we still don’t have the more detailed demographic data, such as “the racial or ethnic makeup of states and counties, the number of immigrants, whether rural places have grown more than before, or if more people are leaving cities”— that data is expected to arrive at the end of September. 

A recent MinnPost article highlights “Five takeaways for Minnesota from the first round of Census numbers.” Minnesota, which had the highest self-response rate in the country at 75.1%,  just barely held onto its eight congressional seats. The state narrowly won out its eighth seat from New York by a count of only 89 people; with such a small margin, Minnesota could possibly face lawsuits from New York. You can read more about the redistricting battle in this ABC News article.

Along similar lines, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis passed new voting restrictions this morning. The law “limits the use of popular ballot drop boxes, adds identification requirements for voters requesting absentee ballots and requires them to request absentee ballots for each election, rather than sign up for them automatically,” the New York Times says. The restrictions follow a flood of Republican efforts to pass voting restrictions in states across the country, such as Georgia, Arizona, and Texas. This Washington Post article details some of the House Democratic attempts to counteract movement toward restrictions. 

Blueprint legislation-tracking 

This week’s legislative updates for bills concerning topics covered in the Minnesota Equity Blueprint are listed below. There are no new bills to track this week, but as always, you can check the legislation-tracking page on our website for a comprehensive list of related bills, updates, and links to individual bill pages. 

Updates: 

Quote: 

“Census nerds! We did it!” — Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan's tweet in reaction to the saving of our congressional seat by an incredibly narrow margin, thanks to our equally incredible collaborative effort statewide to get out the count! We were #1 in the nation for Census returns with just over 75% of Minnesotans responding.


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