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Press Release: Safeguarding Inclusive Representation and Census Integrity

MEDIA CONTACT: Kristy Oriol, koriol@lwvc.org, P: 916-442-7215 Ext. 1

**Sacramento, CA** — The League of Women Voters of California (LWVC) has joined a broad coalition of civil rights organizations in opposing H.R. 7109, (the Equal Representation Act). This bill proposes to change how the U.S. Census is conducted, leaving out noncitizens when counting people for political representation. The LWVC and other civil rights groups say this is against the Constitution and would be detrimental to the democratic process in the United States.

The Equal Representation Act would go against the 14th Amendment, which says that congressional seats should be based on the total number of people in an area, not just the number of citizens. The letter explains, “Asking about citizenship status in the census is unnecessarily intrusive and will raise concerns among all respondents — both native-born and immigrant, citizens and noncitizens, and mixed-status households alike — about the confidentiality and privacy of information provided to the government.”

The climate of fear that would result from this proposed legislation also presents practical concerns about the integrity of the census process itself, risking a significant undercount. This would skew political representation and affect the distribution of $2.8 trillion in federal funding that is given out based on census data. This federal funding is crucial for a range of services, from education to healthcare.

The letter explains how in a recent case (Evenwell v. Abbott (2016)), the U.S. Supreme Court pointed out that representatives are responsible for all people within their constituencies, regardless of their eligibility to vote. This is consistent with the LWVC’s position that every person should be counted and represented. The LWVC and its allies argue that the bill seeks to amend the Constitution through legislative means, when these changes should be made instead through the amendment process. 

As the debate over the Equal Representation Act unfolds, the LWVC continues to mobilize support and educate the public on the implications of such legislative changes, advocating for a fair and accurate census as a foundation for equitable representation and resource allocation. The coalition’s efforts reflect a broader commitment to protecting the rights of all residents and maintaining the integrity of democratic processes in the United States.