This week, Congresswoman Deborah Ross (NC-02) offered an amendment to House Republicans’ so-called Equal Representation Act to end the harmful, undemocratic practice of prison gerrymandering. Specifically, Congresswoman Ross’ amendment would require that the census add incarcerated individuals to the population totals of the communities they call home, instead of the current policy of counting them at the prisons where they are held. Prison gerrymandering creates a gross inequity of representation at the expense of urban areas and communities of color. Republicans on the House Rules Committee ultimately blocked her amendment from making it to the House floor for a vote. 

House Republicans’ Equal Representation Act is harmful legislation that would require the inclusion of a citizenship question on the census and exclude non-citizens from counting towards the population used to determine apportionment of congressional representatives and votes in the Electoral College. President Trump’s attempt to add a citizenship question on the 2020 census was denied by the Supreme Court.

Click here to download her floor speech

“Over one million incarcerated people in the United States are being used as pawns to falsely increase the voting power of areas that do not represent their interests,” said Congresswoman Ross. “Instead of working towards policies that would ensure we accurately and fairly conduct the census, House Republicans have put forward unconstitutional legislation that would make it even more difficult to count our country’s population. I’m incredibly disappointed that House Republicans blocked my amendment from even being considered on the floor and instead are playing politics with equal representation.”

Last year, Congresswoman Ross led the introduction of the End Prison Gerrymandering Act, which would require the Census Bureau to count incarcerated people at their last place of residence rather than the prison in which they are held at the time of the census.