By Khalil Abdullah
By Mayor Tom Barrett and Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day takes place on January 20, 2020, and we encourage every household in the greater Milwaukee area to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy by devoting the day to volunteering to better our community. One of the best ways to do that is to commit to taking part in one of the most important equality and civil rights issues of today – the upcoming 2020 Census.
Every 10 years, the United States conducts a census – or count – of our entire U. S. population. That means every adult and child in your household has the right to be counted.
Why is the 2020 Census important?
- Let’s start with the $675 billion the federal government distributes to local communities each year for health, education, housing services and more. Wisconsin receives $12.6 billion alone based on census data. For every resident that goes uncounted, we will risk losing $1,600 every year for each resident over the next 10 years.
- Census data is also used to determine how many seats each state gets in the U. S. Congress and in deciding voting wards. This process is referred to as redistricting and in the City of Milwaukee will be overseen by the Common Council’s Judiciary and Legislation Committee. Final election wards and aldermanic districts will be considered and adopted by the Common Council.
The next census will begin in mid-March 2020 when the U. S. Census Bureau mails letters to every household about completing a brief census questionnaire by April 1, 2020, Census Day. The census is simple and only takes about 10 minutes to complete. The 2020 Census will ask:
- How many people are living or staying at your home on April 1, 2020.
- Whether your home is owned or rented.
- About the sex, age and race of each person in your home.
- About whether a person in your home is of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin.
- About the relationship of each person in your home.
For the first time in history households will be able to complete the census online, but can still respond by mail or phone. So when you receive your letter, please respond right away and tell your family members, friends, colleagues at work and everyone you know to do the same.
Do not allow fear or false information to prevent you from completing your census questionnaire. The census is private and confidential, meaning the information you provide is between you and the U. S. Census Bureau. It is used only for statistical purposes and cannot be shared with any other person or government agency. This includes ICE, the IRS and law enforcement.
To learn more about the census, please visit milwaukee.gov/2020census. To apply for job opportunities, please visit 2020census.gov/jobs. Starting salaries range from $20.00 to $22.00 per hour for both census office and census taker positions in Milwaukee County. Census workers also receive reimbursement for work-related mileage and expenses, where applicable. To be eligible, you must be 18 years old, a U. S. citizen and have a valid driver’s license.
THANK YOU for honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by making sure YOU are counted in the 2020 Census!
Yesterday, (Tuesday, October 15) the Common Council voted unanimously to approve legislation directing the executive director of the Election Commission to place a non-binding referendum on the April 7, 2020, ballot asking voters whether the City of Milwaukee should request the Wisconsin Legislature to pass a law establishing a non-partisan procedure for drawing legislative district maps.
Alderman Cavalier Johnson, the primary sponsor of the legislation (Common Council file #190826), said it is critically important to allow citizens to have a voice when it comes to creating legislative maps following the upcoming 2020 Census.
“The Wisconsin State Legislature has the opportunity to establish a non-partisan redistricting procedure for drawing legislative maps that can create a sense of fairness in 2020 and beyond,” Alderman Johnson said.
“The current redistricting process is such that it benefits the members of the Republican-controlled Legislature as demonstrated in recent elections, and will require significant political pressure to change. Adding a referendum on the April 7, 2020, ballot gives the citizens of Milwaukee a chance to weigh in on this issue and show their support for establishing a non-partisan procedure for creating new legislative maps,” he said.
Following the 2010 United States Census, the Wisconsin Legislature established new legislative maps for the state and the partisan procedure by which the Legislature prepared new legislative maps in 2011 was controlled entirely by its Republican members.
Alderman Johnson said the implementation of those 2011 legislative maps has granted an advantage to Republican candidates for office in Wisconsin in each election since. In 2012, Republican candidates won 60 of the Wisconsin Assembly’s 99 seats, even though Democratic candidates won a majority of the statewide Assembly vote. I n 2018, the Republican party won 27 more Assembly seats than the Democratic party, even though Democratic candidates received 203,373 more Assembly votes statewide than Republican candidates.
In 2016, a federal court found that in preparing the new legislative maps in 2011, Republican members of the Wisconsin Legislature employed partisan gerrymandering techniques known as cracking and packing to split or concentrate Democratic votes in particular districts in an effort to dilute the voting power of Wisconsin’s Democratic electors and to entrench Republican control of the Legislature. While the federal court found that Wisconsin’s Democratic voters were burdened by the discriminatory effect of the new legislative maps in both the 2012 and 2014 state elections, the U.S. Supreme Court, in another gerrymandering case, ruled that partisan gerrymandering claims, like those at issue in Wisconsin, cannot be decided by the courts but instead must be resolved through the political process.