Texas Gov. Greg Abbott joined today a national call among the GOP for a faster release of decennial Census data. They are warning that delays will make redrawing legislative and congressional district lines in time for the 2022 election cycle “nearly impossible.”
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, the Republican Governors Association’s leader, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who will gain one member in the House of Representatives during reapportionment based on preliminary census numbers, are among the other GOP officials who are pushing for a faster data release.
The data will not be available until August 16th, according to the Census Bureau, and the entire data, with additional user-friendly tools and features, will not be available until September 30th.
The census data will tell Republican Governors the whole demographic picture of their State, giving them tools to reshape districts, and create more favorable conditions in elections for the GOP in those states. This is a common practice known as gerrymandering.
It’s a strategy used by ruling parties to cling to power by skewing the political landscape in their favor. The purpose is to create legislative district borders in such a way that the party’s candidates can win as many seats as feasible. Packing and cracking are two popular methods used by drafters to achieve this.
Packing is when a densely populated district is drawn to contain as many voters from the opposition party as feasible. This aids the ruling party in gaining control of neighbouring districts where the opposition’s power has been weakened, because most of their voters were moved to the packed district.
Cracking, on the other hand, does the opposite: it disperses opposition voters throughout multiple districts, ensuring that they are outnumbered in each one.
The GOP has been very active after the 2020 election by restricting voter rights (and democracy) in local congresses they control. Although they recently failed to diminish democracy in Texas thanks to all democratic party legislators walking out, the fight is not over. After the census data is released, gerrymandering will most likely be used in Texas and all other GOP states, ensuring they never lose local elections again and hoping for that strategy to help them in the next presidential election.