First a local issue with national implications:
Tomorrow morning we at the Westchester County Board of Legislators will be voting on our local party-picked election commissioners’ request for over $6 Million to purchase new voting machines that we don’t need, that cost too much, that have been chosen in a decidedly opaque manner, and that have a serious security flaw, which has them on the chopping block in bills currently pending in the State and federal legislative branches. A nationally active watchdog organization, called Smart Elections, has focused on the vote “hackability” issue right before us and created a web page just for us with sample emails for the public (that’s you!) to send by 10 am tomorrow. The wording of the link tells the story: https://smartelections.us/westchester-disaster
As a fiscally prudent progressive, I will vote “NO.” Bond issues in our legislative body require a two-thirds supermajority — 12 of our 17 members — which means we need six votes to defeat this ill-advised proposal. If you are not my constituent in Eastchester, Tuckahoe or New Rochelle, you can use this link to contact your County Legislator: https://westchesterlegislators.com/district-legislators
Now a national issue with local implications:
I received a vitally important and time-sensitive email from a young man in Seattle whom I’ve known for 27 years and 9 days. OK, he’s our son, but he has certainly developed an expertise in the area of getting Native American tribes what they have been promised by the Government, which requires accurate census numbers. The kind of census suppression that Harry discusses could be the difference here in NY in our loss of one or two Congressional seats (and thus the loss of one or two electoral votes for President, too), as well the loss of our fair share of State and federal investment in the communities that need it most. The urgent action item is contacting our federal and state elected officials to express strong opposition to this latest attempt by the Trump Administration to undermine a complete count. You can find contact information for all your electeds with the same link above for finding your County Legislator. Here’s the email, including endnotes and helpful cites at the bottom:
Respected Legislator Maher,
I am a data analyst at a consulting firm in Seattle that primarily works with Tribally Designated Housing Entities (TDHEs). As you likely know, housing entities nationwide depend on accurate census data to obtain funding to address the housing needs of the communities that they serve. This year I worked with a statewide coalition funded by the Washington State Office of Financial Management to improve response rates and ensure full coverage in Washington. We did a damn good job: Washington was the 2nd state to surpass its 2010 Census response rate and has the 6th highest self-response rate in the US (compared to 21st in 2010).
But our hard work is in jeopardy: communities of color are now at high risk of being undercounted, underfunded, and underrepresented. This is because, as revealed by NPR yesterday, the Census Bureau, led by a Trump appointee, intends to cut a full month off of planned data collection in a move that will likely lead to massive undercounts among communities of color.
Via NPR: “The condensed door-knocking time frame increases the risk of leaving out many people of color, immigrants and other members of historically undercounted groups from numbers that are collected once a decade to determine each state’s share of congressional seats, Electoral College votes and an estimated $1.5 trillion a year in federal tax dollars for Medicare, Medicaid and other public services…
Former Census Bureau Director John Thompson warns… ‘The end result would be [overrepresentation] for the White non-Hispanic population and greater undercounts for all other populations including the traditionally hard-to-count,’ Thompson wrote in written testimony for a Wednesday hearing on the census before the House Oversight and Reform Committee.”
This comes on the heels of an announcement this Monday that, for the first time ever, the Census Bureau will start to send emails to households in low responding areas, and may also send text messages. Recent data released from the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey show that the Census Bureau is significantly more likely to have your email address if you’re non-Hispanic White, over 35, and highly educated. These emails will likely serve to further amplifying inequities in census coverage. (In the 2010 Census, the Bureau’s coverage report noted that it undercounted Native Americans on Reservations by 4.9%–this time could be much worse.)
We need to make sure that historically undercounted communities are accurately counted and that the Census Bureau is given the time and resources that it needs for a fair and accurate count.
Please let me know how I can help you with this. I will be CC’ing Senators Murray and Cantwell as well as representative Jayapal and other local politicians.
Census press release regarding email outreach: https://2020census.gov/en/news-events/press-releases/2020-email.html
Household Pulse Survey Data Showing Inequities in Email Coverage: https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/household-pulse-survey/technical-documentation.html