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Sun Nov 17, 2019, 11:08 AM

Wow. Great article on Hofeller (father of modern RW gerrymandering)

A Father, a Daughter, and the Attempt to Change the Census
How Stephanie Hofeller’s estrangement from her family may have altered American political history.


Thomas Hofeller, who died in August, at the age of seventy-five, was raised in San Diego and served in the Navy during the Vietnam War. In the early eighties, after completing a doctorate in political science at Claremont Graduate University, he became the R.N.C.’s data-operations manager. In that position, he began to grasp how the redrawing of political maps could usher in a sweeping tide of Republican power in state legislatures. Congressional redistricting became his specialty; the Times obituary referred to him as “the Michelangelo of the modern gerrymander.” The former congressman Lynn Westmoreland worked closely with Hofeller on Republican redistricting efforts in Georgia between 2000 and 2010. “Redistricting is the science of politics,” Westmoreland told me. “It’s also a blood sport for adults, because it controls ten years and it controls peoples’ lives. It’s the purest form of brass-knuckle politics that there is. And, of the people I worked with over many years, Mr. Hofeller was the go-to guy, the best.” He added, “When you do this for forty years, as Tom did, you’re not just doing it for the moment. You’re trying to prepare for legal challenges, to anticipate what changes could be made, population growth and decline, the winds of the political environment in states and districts. Tom, he understood it all.”


In the meantime, the hard drives have upended another case entirely, one that is not about gerrymandering but the census. A year and a half ago, ProPublica reported that the Department of Justice had sent a letter to the Census Bureau requesting that the 2020 census include a question asking people whether they were U.S. citizens. The letter argued that adding such a question would help the department enforce the Voting Rights Act, by obtaining “citizen voting-age population data” in places where the voting power of minorities might be improperly diluted by redistricting. Legal observers were immediately suspicious of this stated reasoning: adding a citizenship question would likely cause fewer immigrants to respond to the census, and, while additional citizenship data might be useful, “no one in the communities who are most affected” by the Voting Rights Act has expressed concern about a lack of such data, as Michael Li, an election-law specialist at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, pointed out at the time. Eventually, seventeen states, seven cities, and multiple nonprofit groups filed a lawsuit fighting the addition of a citizenship question to the census, and the case made its way to the Supreme Court.

In May, with the Supreme Court’s decision pending, attorneys at Common Cause were going through Hofeller’s files when they found evidence that seemed to confirm what many had suspected: that adding a citizenship question to the census was a way to drive down immigrant participation—thus weakening their representation when subsequent congressional districts were drawn—and had nothing to do with enforcing the Voting Rights Act. Some of the language and reasoning in the Justice Department’s letter appeared to come directly from Hofeller, who, they discovered, had conducted a study, in 2015, on the effects of drawing congressional districts not according to a state’s total population but according to the number of voting-age citizens. Doing so, he concluded, “would be advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites.” And it would be impossible to do so, he wrote, without adding a citizenship question to the census. Common Cause also found e-mail exchanges on the hard drives between Hofeller and Christa Jones, a longtime census employee who is now chief of staff to the deputy director of the U.S. Census Bureau. Jones e-mailed Hofeller about the census in 2010, and again in 2015, when she pointed out that the bureau was soliciting public comments, and noted, “This can also be an opportunity to mention citizenship as well.”


H Hofeller says that she spoke with her father on more than one occasion about the idea of using the census to help shift political power. She would point out that making census forms “more invasive” would likely lead to fewer “disenfranchised people” answering them, and her father, she recalls, would say, “Well, if you’re not gonna get counted, you’re not gonna get represented.” She also maintains that, before she became estranged from him, her father talked with her about redistricting in North Carolina, and about something that he “found difficult to manage in his clients,” which “he would avoid explicitly defining.” In the case of the North Carolina legislators, she said, “It was a twofold problem. One, this tendency to wear racism out and proud, which would shine the light on what he was trying to obfuscate. And, two, the tendency to get greedy.”

Soooo much more at the link. A lot of personal history between Stephanie and her father.

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Reply Wow. Great article on Hofeller (father of modern RW gerrymandering) (Original post)
Roland99 Nov 2019 OP
dlk Nov 2019 #1
Roland99 Nov 2019 #2
dlk Nov 2019 #3

Response to Roland99 (Original post)

Sun Nov 17, 2019, 11:13 AM

1. The right to vote is powerful

And why Republicans are so invested in denying it to those they don’t agree with.

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Response to dlk (Reply #1)

Sun Nov 17, 2019, 12:37 PM

2. Republicans must lie to survive: They have no other choice

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Response to Roland99 (Reply #2)

Sun Nov 17, 2019, 01:01 PM

3. Republicans use snake oil salesmen to distract with social issues

The Salon article clearly spelled out Republicans’ strategy. Thanks for sharing.

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