Vote Dilution and the Census Undercount: A State-by-State Remedy

This Note argues that groups seeking to correct underrepresentation caused by the differential undercount do not have standing to sue the Secretary of Commerce but that they can sue their state governments in an effort to force them to use the best population data available in the construction of congressional districts. Part I details the deeply rooted character of the differential undercount, describes statistical means that could have been employed to adjust the 1990 census, and demonstrates that the adjusted count surpasses the official census as an accurate representation of the true population. Part II examines recent litigation that has attempted to force the Secretary of Commerce to reverse his decision not to adjust the 1990 census and concludes that these efforts have failed because the plaintiffs suffered no injury directly related to the Secretary’s decision and therefore lacked standing to challenge it. Part III argues that plaintiffs can prevail in actions against their state governments by challenging their state’s use of unadjusted figures for congressional redistricting. The Supreme Court has required states to use the “best population data available” when drawing congressional districts. Because the unadjusted census no longer represents the “best population data available” for most Americans, states must use adjusted data.