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Remember the last time the Republican Party put on a magic show On December 12 conservative members of the Supreme Court made 69000 ballots disappear in Florida But that was amateur night compared to the wizardry of Commerce Secretary Don Evans At a March press conference witnessed by dozens of reporters Evans caused 33 million Americans to vanish without a trace Howd he do it Evans refused to allow the Census Bureau to use the scientific process of sampling which would have adjusted the population figures to correct for undercounts in minority and immigrant neighborhoods Big cities like Los Angeles desperately want to use sampled figures to plan public services A decade ago the Census Bureau badly shortchanged LA missing nearly 5 percent of the citys residents The school district used the inaccurate figures to decide how many new schools it needed In the early 90s a huge surge of 5-year-olds -- far more than the Census had predicted -- started registering for kindergarten There werent nearly enough classrooms to hold them all Los Angeles also uses census figures to plan bus lines site police stations build sewers and distribute money for Head Start programs Everything we do in government is based on this says Jessica Hines an assistant city attorney If you dont have good data its very hard to allocate money for parks Evans sleight-of-hand isnt meant to force kindergarteners into overcrowded classrooms Hes really trying to trick Californias Democratic legislature which could use sampled figures to draw new districts for the states 53 congressional seats That would increase representation in black and Hispanic areas threatening the Republican majority in Congress Nationwide the undercount is equivalent to five congressional seats -- enough to even the score between Democrats and the GOP in the House At a March 6 press conference Evans explained that there wasnt time for the Census Bureau to determine whether
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