FOR THE WEEK OF MAR. 28, 2011
Census results reshape election districts in 'game of musical chairs' that unseats some politicians
The Census confirms a growing share of people with Hispanic heritage and Asian roots in many areas (see video below). Show an example of coverage reflecting the diversity of your city or state.
The 2010 count also delivers breakdowns of each community's age range. Pick any page or online section and identify at least one story of interest to students and one that probably appeals to parents.
Drawing new U.S. House districts will change Congress after 2012 elections. Find a report on what current members are talking about or working on now.
Now that our heads have been counted, a tough job is ahead for state legislatures. States will use 2010 Census results to redraw legislative districts and possibly U.S. House districts so that each has roughly the same number of people, upholding the U.S. Constitution's requirement for equal representation. Lawmakers or a nonpartisan committee will approve new district boundaries for 2012 ballots. Public meetings began last weekend in Massachusetts, Indiana, Ohio and elsewhere.
Michigan's population loss since 2010 means its congressional delegation shrinks from 15 to 14 seats. New York and Ohio lose two U.S. House seats each, while Massachusetts and Pennsylvania drop one apiece -- in all cases because their growth rates are below the nation's overall 9.7-percent expansion from 2000 to 2010. States gaining House seats include Texas, Florida, Nevada and South Carolina.
"Redistricting becomes a game of musical chairs," says Professor Nathaniel Persily of Columbia University in New York, who advises some states on the process. Legislative Black Caucus members in Michigan hired lawyers "to ensure that all Michiganders receive fair treatment and representation," says Rep. David Nathan, a Detroit Democrat. Iowa and a few other states try to show the process is honest by releasing the computer software used to draw election boundaries so voters can see how it works.
Legislator says: "When the music starts playing in that musical chairs, I'm taking my seat with me!" -- State Rep. Phillip Lowe of South Carolina, a Republican
Editorial says: "State residents do not benefit from the kinds of lopsided districts that are sometimes drawn in Pennsylvania based on party politics. We already are losing one congressional district. Let's make sure all the rest -- on the state and federal level -- reflect residents' needs and not just those of politicians." -- The Patriot-News, Mechanicsburg, Pa.
Political scientist says: "Even though some legislators may want to use redistricting to help their party cement control, voters can thwart their best-laid plans." -- Professor Joseph Aistrup, Kansas State University
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