The U.S. Constitution requires the federal government to count everyone living in the United States every 10 years. EVERYONE. In the beginning, this accurate comprehensive count was important because it determined the number of representatives a state would have in Congress. The Founders carefully chose the word “resident” not “citizen” because southern slave owners insisted that their slaves be counted too – albeit as three-fifths a person. The bitter irony of that – counting slaves so a state would continue to have the political power in Congress to continue to enslave them – should not escape any of us.
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