Gov. Steve Bullock this week sent a letter to officials in Washington, D.C., urging them to avoid political games that could distort the results of the 2020 U.S. Census by asking a question on citizenship.
Bullock sent the letter Monday to House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, and to Ranking Member Elijah Cummings.
The committee is expected to hold a hearing on Tuesday.
“The federal officials who administer the Census have a special public trust: follow the Constitution, and steer clear of political games that would distort the results of the Census,” Bullock wrote in his letter. “There is no place for the ugly, racial history of gerrymandering to rear its head again through the Census.”
Bullock said the new citizenship question would “disproportionately target underrepresented communities, citizens and noncitizens alike,” and “threaten to dilute the voices of American Indians, Hispanics, Asian Americans, African Americans, and others in our democratic system of government.”
Bullock said Montana has experienced the effects of undercounting certain groups in the Census.
According to the National Congress of American Indians and the Native American Rights Fund, nearly 5 percent of Native people on reservations were missed in the most recent Census. That’s more than double the undercount rate for the next closest population group.
In the 1990 Census, the net undercount for American Indians on reservations was more than 12 percent, Bullock said.
“The Constitution requires an enumeration of all persons in an area, not just citizens,” he said. “A citizenship question – such as the one proposed – chills participation in the Census process and risks undercounting persons in areas with large minority populations.”