Supreme Court Case Threatens Representation of Children and Non-Citizens
An Analysis of the Potential Impact of Evenwel v. Abbott on Redistricting
Report and Interactive Maps
New York, NY, December 2, 2015
Population equality is the main criteria for creating legislative districts in the US, but a proposed change could drastically alter how people are counted and how districts are drawn. On December 8, 2015, the Supreme Court will hear the case of Evenwel v. Abbott, whose plaintiffs argue that legislative districts should be based upon the number of voters or potential voters in each district instead of all residents.
Social Explorer’s Andrew Beveridge analyzes the effects of such a change in the report The Threat to Representation for Children and Non-Citizens: An Analysis of the Potential Impact of Evenwel v. Abbott on Redistricting, which is available for download here: http://static.socialexplorer.com/evenwel/Evenwell_Impact_Report.pdf
Social Explorer developed a companion interactive tool (available at http://www.socialexplorer.com/evenwel) to visualize how state legislative and congressional districts would need to change and which groups would be affected. Explore the maps to see the impact nationwide, and zoom in for a close-up of your local community. Engage your readers by linking to the interactive tool.
“If the Court should rule for the plaintiffs, virtually all legislative districting plans in the United States would need to be redrawn, and children and non-citizens would no longer count towards representation,” said Beveridge.
Using the data that would have been available in 2011 to draw districts, Beveridge estimated the effect on every State Legislative and Congressional District in the United States (the 2010 Census and 2006-10 American Community Survey, from which the U.S. Census Bureau tabulates Citizens of Voting Age Population for various ethnic and racial communities at the block group level). These data are also available for download through the interactive tool.
Adhering to the widely-used standards for the division of districts (that state legislative districts should be within five percent of the average district size and congressional districts must be equal), the following results were found:
- Nearly half of upper house legislative districts would no longer be of legal size compared to the new eligible-voter based average district size (49.9 percent or 974 of 1951).
- Over half of the lower house legislative districts would also need to be redrawn (57.2 percent or 2,739 of 4,792).
- More than two thirds of congressional districts would be beyond two percent of the eligible-voter based average district size (69.7 percent).
- There would be a substantial power shift away from areas with school age children, Hispanics, Asians and non-Citizens towards areas with older residents, who were more likely citizens and non-Hispanic white.
- The equivalent of almost five congressional seats (4.89) would switch from Democratic to Republican control.
- There might be even more impact in terms of the concerns of each party as fewer Hispanics and parents with children would have a voice, while the influence of the childless and non-Hispanic communities would grow in power (especially in Texas, New York City, and California).
Andrew A. Beveridge, Ph.D., is Professor of Sociology at Queens College and the Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York. Since 1993, Dr. Beveridge has been a consultant to the New York Times, which has published numerous news reports and maps based upon his analysis of census data. A volume he edited with David Halle of UCLA titled New York and Los Angeles: The Uncertain Future was published in 2013 by Oxford University Press. He received his Ph.D. and M.Phil. in sociology from Yale University and his B.A with honors in economics from Yale College. Before coming to CUNY he taught for eight years at Columbia University. He has received grant and fellowship support from the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and many other agencies. He has also been involved with numerous consulting engagements including many related to Civil Rights litigation. He was awarded the Public Understanding of Sociology Award by the American Sociological Association in 2007. He is the president and co-founder of Social Explorer.
The views expressed in this report are Beveridge’s alone and do not necessarily represent the views of any organization with which he is associated.
Social Explorer (www.SocialExplorer.com) is an online research tool designed to provide quick and easy access to current and historical demographic data. Social Explorer was first conceived of in 1999 to break down the barriers to demographic visualization and large-scale data analysis. With support from the National Science Foundation andThe New York Times, the Social Explorer team developed a sophisticated data system and a simple online interface to give users access to comprehensive demographic data and interactive tools. The site first launched to the public in 2003 and became available by subscription in 2007 through our distributor Oxford University Press, as well as through partnerships with Pearson Publishers and the Census Bureau.