The City of Pasadena hired National Demographics Corporation (NDC) to draw its redistricting plan.
By Brandon Tran
In the niche field of redistricting, insiders and electeds often view NDC as the go-to firm for incumbency protection, which NDC denies. Douglas Johnson, the president of NDC, was a research fellow for the Rose Institute of State and Local Government, who many view as a conservative-leaning political think tank.
According to the Brennan Center for Justice, city redistricting can have a serious impact on political influence, affecting who wins elections, how laws are passed and who benefits politically.
When NDC was selected to aid in redistricting for Santa Barbara, the League of Women Voters of Santa Barbara wrote a letter requesting that the city’s redistricting commission allow residents of Santa Barbara to propose alternative candidates; but the redistricting commission decided to continue working with NDC until further notice.
In 2019, a judge threw out testimony provided by Johnson to support Republican lawmakers in connection with redistricting in North Carolina. Johnson claimed that his demographic analysis showed that the redistricting maps provided by Common Cause, a non-partisan political advocacy organization, had a population differential of 36% from the maps implemented by lawmakers. However, the lawyer for Common Cause stated that Johnson had excluded nearly twelve districts in his examination. As a result, Johnson was unable to definitively state what proportion of North Carolina residents had actually been affected by state redistricting, confessed he had made several mistakes when questioned, and was deemed by the judge to be unreliable.
NDC also has had a controversial history in other states. The U.S. Department of Justice found that the political maps it designed for Arizona in 2001 disadvantaged Latino voters. In 2018, a judge ruled that NDC had done the same in Kern County, California. In May 2021, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission accepted the joint proposal of NDC and another entity as the Commission’s redistricting consultants over strong objections, citing the 2001 controversies.
Additionally, NDC withdrew its application as a finalist for demographer for the L.A. County Independent Redistricting Commission this year after activists and residents protested that NDC was not nonpartisan or minority-friendly.
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