State-level Republicans are pouncing on the Trump administration’s move to add a citizenship question to the Census as a way to boost their electoral advantage in the next round of redistricting. Missouri Republicans last week advanced a measure that would put on November’s ballot a constitutional amendment to require state legislative districts to be drawn using the number of citizens, rather than total population. Two Republicans defected from the otherwise 90-34 party line House vote. Asked during a Friday floor debate over how Missouri would implement the requirement, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Dean Plocher (R), pointed specifically to the fact that the citizenship question will be on the next Census.
“We hope, we expect, I expect to have that question on there,” Plocher said, when Rep. Pat Conway (D) brought up the possibility that the citizenship question, which faces numerous lawsuits, might not ultimately make it to the decennial survey.
Separately, a bill in Nebraska that also would draw districts based on citizens was introduced in January by a Republican lawmaker but did not get far.
Critics of the move see it as aimed at shrinking the political power of urban and immigrant communities, who will see fewer districts drawn to the represent their populations if number of citizens rather than total population provides the basis of the maps.