How Trump’s Pro-Gerrymandering Pick for Census Could Rig Democracy

White House insiders have indicated that Donald Trump is about to appoint Thomas Brunell to be the deputy secretary of the U.S. Census Bureau. While even critics of the president are probably wondering why itís necessary to second guess someone as seemingly insignificant as a census deputy secretary, make no mistake: from this role, Brunell could intentionally alter American democracy.

Sign the petition: Tell Trump not to appoint Brunell

Traditionally, people appointed to this position are career government officials who have avoided partisan politics and have expertise in statistics. Brunell, however, is a conservative political science professor who has never held a government job.

What Brunell does bring to the table is only something that shady Republicans would love. Brunell wrote a book called Redistricting and Representation: Why Competitive Elections Are Bad for America. On multiple occasions, the GOP has brought Brunell to court as a witness to help defend their partisan district lines.

Putting a known gerrymandering expert as a leader at the U.S. Census Bureau is highly problematic given how intrinsically linked those two things are. The United States uses the census numbers to determine how many House seats each state gets, with even slight changes in population having a potentially massive impact on representation.

Even before rumors of Brunellís appointment, Rolling Stone worried aloud that Republicans were already eyeing ways to let the census more or less fail. Already the GOP has indicated that they plan to slash the budget to make it difficult for the government to count everyone.

On top of that, the census is designed to count all people in the U.S., not just the citizens, for the purpose of representation. However, with Trump taking a very public stand against immigrants and the GOP seeking to put questions on census about immigration status, itís likely that a lot of communities of color will try to avoid filling out the forms.

Ed Burmila writes:

Itís a deceptively simple scheme: Trump and his commerce secretary impose rules on the Census Bureau based on the belief that science and data analysis are fake news. Congress squeezes the bureauís funding, reducing the quality of work it can do. ICE threatens non-citizens with deportation to seriously dampen enthusiasm for participating. And then the results of the 2020 census will be based largely on voluntary responses to mail-in and online surveys, giving an incomplete and demographically skewed picture of the U.S. population.

The bottom line is that it would be very easy for politically motivated census leaders to undercount populations in particular regions to reduce their political power. ďThere are tons of little things [Brunell] could be doing to influence what the final count looks like,Ē a former Commerce official told Politico. ďThe ripple effect on reapportionment would be astounding.Ē

A more ethical president would simply appoint a non-controversial figure to this position to avoid even the appearance of partisan number finagling. Trump, however, is not that kind of president.

Everything Trump has done so far indicates he wants to facilitate a system where elections are favorable to him rather than fair. Not only does he continue to assert that Russia did not interfere in the U.S. election (a sharp contrast from the conclusions of multiple U.S. intelligence agencies), he also created an “Election Integrity Committee,” supposedly to identify voter fraud, but more plausibly to set up extra obstacles to prevent people from voting legally.

If thereís any good news in this circumstance, itís that Brunell was initially being considered for Census director, but he was ultimately deemed too controversial to make it through Senate confirmation. Still, that Trump has put him in as high as a position in the census that doesnít require Senate approval should raise red flags.

Remember, the results from the 2020 census are the numbers that the government will have an effect on representation for the following ten years. The upper hand Republicans could gain from partisan maneuvers would be long lasting.

Thatís why itís important to try to keep the census honest. Sign this petition telling Trump to pick a less controversial figure than Brunell to have power at the U.S. Census Bureau. Just because thereís something partisan to be gained by gaming the system doesnít make it the right thing for the government to do.

48 comments

Joan E
Joan E1 months ago

Trump is a slime-ball who does everything he can to destroy our democracy. Looking forward to his ouster.

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Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld1 months ago

Mary B.,
Part of that problem are those who do not want to be counted. They wish to remain hidden from the authorities for a number of reasons. Most of those working at low paying jobs (except under the table jobs) are counted in the census.

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Mary B
Mary B1 months ago

Something else that has just occurred to me. With out an accurate census of who is in the country, legal or not, we would have no way of knowing who has been 'dissapeared' .And way too many of you when you think of POOR people, you assume they are draining the safety net, when they are instead doing the worst most low paying jobs around and still need help. But even more ridiculous are the rich who live in a mental bubble where they believe they're supporting every one else .

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Amanda M
Amanda M1 months ago

Petition signed with a vengeance! Twitler wants nothing more than to create a country where the only people who have any rights whatsoever are rich white hetero Christian MEN. Be afraid, America-be VERY afraid-and RESIST!

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Kathryn I
Kathryn I1 months ago

Noted - Thanks!

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pam w
pam w1 months ago

His intentions are very clear here...and we MUST find a way to stop him!

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Kathryn I
Kathryn I1 months ago

Petition signed - Trump is just part of more socio-psychopathic gutter trash, with zero credibility/integrity; the list goes on and on and on, and none of it is "pretty" either! Trump's agenda is Trump and his equally corrupt cronies--no one else, no middle class, and certainly, not the poor. Just to think that there were thousands of the middle class and the poor, who were (and still are!) ignorant enough to actually call themselves "Republicans." Indeed, the joke is on them, and they deserve whatever rotten deals they get from Trump as a result of their having voted for the arrogant incompetent. However, the only "catch" in that way of thinking is that those of us who ARE politically educated (not ignorant!) are destined to get the very same set of rotten deals that they are doomed to get!

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Mary B
Mary B1 months ago

Debbi Wood, we need a lot more than the things you mentioned. Many have NO children, and still need help with necessities due to no or low paying jobs.There is no such thing as a 'reasonable budget ', only however much it takes to make sure ALL are more than adequately provided for. We've got to start thinking bigger because people cost money, but they are also who get the stuff done, and not all jobs are needed for long term. The ones that are, can be shared so that nobody is over worked and there is always 2 or 3 back ups that can be counted on when needed. Instead we have this insane system where one person has to work 2 or3 low wage jobs just to make ends meet. In that system, we all become victims to one degree or another.

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Winn A
Winn A1 months ago

tRUMP is a moron and has no soul.

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Winn A
Winn A1 months ago

Petition Signed

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