The Republican Party has been caught yet again engaging in tactics that could skew official census results. Now, across the United States, individuals on a GOP mailing list have been sent political questionnaires labeled a “Congressional District Census” that, in reality, have nothing to do with the official census (which does weigh on Congressional district lines) whatsoever. Instead, the mailers simply contain leading questions designed to accumulate pro-Trump data, like a question asking whether recipients approve or disapprove of Democrats’ baselessly supposed “agenda to raise taxes… open our borders to all immigrants” and more.
It’s unclear how many of these brazenly deceptive, manipulative mailers were sent out. The official census is set to begin data collection within just a few weeks, and there’s a real danger that those unfamiliar with the process could be duped into filling out the first, fake census form from the GOP and thinking they’re done. When a real census form gets delivered, they could ignore it. The Los Angeles Times notes that Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) says that people have contacted her office who “first heard about the mailer from their confused elderly parents who were unsure if the document was the official census,” although again, it’s not.
But — the envelopes are even labeled with demands for recipients not to “destroy” the “official document” inside. The paper itself is tinted blue — just like a census form. In other words, the deceptive Republican Party has gone all out.
Democratic National Committee spokesman Daniel Wessel denounced the mailers as “intentionally deceptive” and “reprehensible” and noted that “Democrats also use surveys, but… do not attempt to disguise them as official government documents,” as the Los Angeles Times summarizes. Rep. Porter noted that there’s “a real risk of harm here.”
That harm from these documents could emerge if counts get artificially lowered when tallying how many people are actually in a particular area. The Trump administration already pursued a policy that could cause that outcome when they ultimately unsuccessfully attempted to include a question about respondents’ citizenship status on the 2020 census, which was blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court as arbitrary and capricious. That could have intimidated immigrant communities and driven down tallies.
Census results are used for a whole host of things, from the allotment of representatives in Congress to investment decisions by both governmental authorities and private business.
Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.) commented:
‘Anything that confuses people, that makes them think they’ve actually filled out the census, could cause them not to fill out the official census when it comes — it’s something that could undermine the count.’
The GOP has actually pulled a stunt like this before. All the way back around the 2010 census, they sent out similarly labeled mailers. In the wake of that scandal, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) sponsored the eventually successfully passed and appropriately named Prevent Deceptive Census Look Alike Mailings Act, but that prohibited mailers with the word census on the outside — and in this latest case, the GOP’s mailers feature the word census all over the contents of the envelope. Yes, they’re that petty.