According to an Associated Press review, North Carolina was cheated out of an additional representative in Congress and an electoral vote because of the large number of troops stationed here who were overseas protecting the homeland.
It’s no small loss. In addition to the extra clout in electing the nation’s president, federal funding, both social and economic, is tied to a state’s population. The more people, the more money, meaning fewer federal dollars will be pouring into this state for the next decade.
The census counts military personnel two ways. If a soldier is on base, that person is included in the count of the state where the base is located. But if the soldier is overseas, then the soldier it part of the tally for his or her home state.
According to The Associated Press, during the census of 2010, about 40,000 of this state’s troops were deployed overseas; of those, only about 12,000 called North Carolina home, which means an under-count for the state of about 28,000.
If those 28,000 troops had been added to this state’s census count, North Carolina, which now has 15 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, would have won a 16th seat at the expense of Minnesota.
To her credit, Gov. Beverly Perdue lobbied U.S. Census officials to include deployed personnel as part of the count in the state of the base they were last assigned, but her argument died in the wind.
“A large chunk of those people who are deployed out may not consider themselves to be North Carolinians on their paperwork, but their presence at this base definitely impacts North Carolina’s economy,”said Bob Coats, Perdue’s liaison to the U.S. Census. “They’re voting in North Carolina. They’re using goods and services in North Carolina.”
Coats is exactly right. While there are obvious advantages to additional residents, particularly relating to the economy, there are pressures on infrastructure and services. Ask Cumberland County about some of the stresses related to Ft. Bragg.
There ought to be a better way. And it surely can be figured out before the 2020 census.