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    • To get and keep control of the reins of government, the GOP has tried to deter likely Democrat supporters from voting. And the GOP tries to limit the impact of votes for the opposing party through gerrymandering, Both efforts, to varying degrees, have helped the GOP and harmed the Democrats.

      In it's latest attempt to handicap the Democrats, the GOP is trying to add the question "are you a citizen" to the 2020 Census. How voter suppression and gerrymandering is done is too complex for me to try and explain in this post. And the reason for the census and the impact of the citizen question is a topic for another time.

      The focus of this post is the census, but limited to the question, "can you lie on the census and get away with it". The answer to this two part question is no, you can't legally lie, but yes, you are not likely to get caught or punished for it.

      As a matter of law, you need to answer census questions and you need to tell the truth. The penalty for not answering a census question is a fine of up to $100. The penalty for lying is a fine of up to $500. In addition, the Census Bureau says it can impose a fine of up to $5,000 for these infractions.

      I'm not going to admit to breaking the law, but I will say that a guy I know (it could have been me) answered the 2010 census and said he is:
      1. Black (a lie),
      2. Hispanic (Hispanicity is an ethnic identity, not racial category. So yes, this guy could claim he is both Black and Hispanic. But it's a lie).
      3. Married (also a lie),
      4. And lesbian. (nope I'm not. I mean, the guy I know is not).

      Why the lies? He believed these answers would benefit groups of people he wanted to help. How they benefit is, again, too complicated for me to explain. But the law was broken. And the guy never got caught.

      How many people lie on the census? The Bureau doesn't know and does not care to find out. And if they somehow find a lie, they won't do anything about it, One spokesperson said that the Census Bureau has never prosecuted anybody, Another said the agency hasn't prosecuted anyone for any infraction since 1970. She said the bureau is "really not in the business of prosecuting people who don’t comply."

      One woman reports she got the Census questionnaire in the mail and didn't respond. She then got two home visits by Census takers. At the second visit she got angry and yelled "don’t talk about fining me, DO IT! You’ll get plenty of publicity!'”. They didn't.

      Some people get more than two visits by Census field representatives. Yet another spokesperson said "While the prosecutions haven’t happened yet, the mailings, phone calls and door-knocking have, and will continue. We’ll get tired and go away eventually, but we might knock on your door a whole bunch of times.”

      Avoid these pesky door-knockers. Fill out and send back the mailed questionnaire. If you object to the Census as a whole, or any particular question, just lie, lie, lie. It's unlikely you will get caught.

      So, am I a Black Hispanic married lesbian? No. But I did tell the government I was, I'm also not a lawyer and you shouldn't follow any of my advice. Please, don't lie to the government. And if they ask you if you are a citizen? (Oh, hell....)

    • And the GOP tries to limit the impact of votes for the opposing party through gerrymandering,

      Hi Hadrian,

      We hear a lot about gerrymandering and sometimes see crazy districts, but the pundits often say whichever party is in power does it. Is that true? I tried to chase that down but it looks like it's complicated:

    • Hey, keep your replies on topic fella. The topic is lying. <Just kidding.>

      I don't care if both sides gerrymander not. And the effort to prove or disprove the claim is a distraction.

      The argument that both sides gerrymander doesn't mean that it's OK to do. But if true (and it likely is) it does mean it will be damned hard to stop. But making mutual accusations hardly ever changes things. And the "hey, they do it too" argument is one a kid in grade school would make. So, what are we adults going to do? What's an effective strategy for change?

      Former President Obama is going all in to fight the practice. "The former president sees representative elections as the key to progress on global warming, gun control, and health care". In other words, if not for gerrymandering, Democrats and their agenda would prevail. He thinks that's what people truly want and what is being denied them by the GOP.. Is that true? Will we ever have a chance to find out? And, are Obama's claims going to advance the effort for redistricting reform?

      Obama has folded his Organizing for Action group into the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. He recruited Eric Holder, his friend and former attorney general, to chair the group. So, ya. It's a partisan effort. For reasons that are obvious, It would have to be.

      So, what's the strategy? Redistricting is an esoteric issue. I'm trying to imagine people taking to the streets with the call-and response chant. "What do we want?" "Redistricting." When do we want it?" "ASAP after the 2020 census." I just can't see that happening.

      But people are energized by the fight to keep the citizen question off the census. They understand the need to have a clean and accurate count in 2020. That information is going to guide the drawing of electoral maps, in 2021. So far, we are winning in the effort to keep the question off the census. But the three current lower court wins, and any in the future, are going to be challenged. The issue will likely be decided by SCOTUS. In other words, it's most likely we are going to get screwed. What is the way forward if that happens or not? We will see,

    • By the way, this is a true story. I did indeed fill out the census form with that demographic info. Was I worried about getting caught? Hell no.

      I worked as a Census field rep trainer twice. I knew how our district office operated, Not very well. For example, there was a time hundreds, maybe thousands of completed forms were somehow lost. The office had to send out the people I trained to ask folks to complete the form again. Most refused, saying, "I already did this. Why do I need to do it twice?" What were the field reps supposed to say? "We lost your confidential information so we need to get it again?" I told the reps to go to homes just once, not repeatedly as was the practice, and to not force the issue. I don't recall if we ever came up with a plausible lie for why this was being done.