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Why does the citizenship question matter on the census?

Last week, the Trump administration found a new and exciting way to troll us, announcing that it will add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census. We never get an f-ing break! California has already filed a lawsuit, with more than 10 other states led by New York threatening to do the same.

I don't get why this matters so much. Who cares what's on the census form?

I know, I know. Tests, questionnaires, and surveys sound boring, but the census is kinda a big deal. We've even done a whole newsletter on it. The survey only happens once every 10 years but the data collected by the census determines the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives. In addition, its used to distribute billions in federal funds to local communities.

Oh, and we'd be remiss if we didn't mention that other topic that we love to talk about: gerrymandering! The addition of a citizenship question could discourage immigrants, minorities and low-income households from participating and therefore significantly undercount them. That means that this question could help shift voting districts in the GOP's favor, giving more power and money to rich, white populations at the expense of everybody else.

What is the White House saying about this?

Literally, ALTERNATIVE FACTS. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, "this is a question that's been included in every census since 1965, with the exception of 2010, when it was removed."

FACT CHECK: INCORRECT. The question has not appeared on the U.S. census since 1950. Also, 1965? Uh...there is not even a census that year! Sanders was making that claim based on the fact that the question did appear in the 1970-2000 long-form version of the census questionnaire, but it did not appear in the short-form that goes out to every U.S. household. The long-form survey was discontinued after 2000, mainly because it was replaced by an annual survey that goes out to around 3.5 million households. It includes many of those long-form questions, including one about citizenship.