AUSTIN, Texas -- A new question about citizenship on the 2020 US Census could cause issues for Texas when it comes time to redraw voting maps.
Critics fear the question will discourage participation among minority groups, which could skew redistricting.
"It could make it harder to draw districts where communities of color, particularly Latinos, have an ability to elect candidates and win races," said Michael Li, Senior Counsel for NYU's Brennan Center for Justice.
The census also ensures Congressional seats are distributed to states proportional to population, and some say that the citizenship question will lead to undercounting Texas' growing Latino population.
"There's no alternative. You have to use the census. And so if there's a significant undercount in the census, then Texas will fail, potentially, to gain all of the seats it's entitled to," Li said.
If Latinos in Texas are undercounted, some voting experts claim the state could lose its chance to pick up three additional Congressional seats.
"This is about getting Texas' fair share of representation and resources," said Rep. César Blanco (D-El Paso).
Wednesday, State Democrats and minority rights groups called on Republican leaders to join a multi-state lawsuit opposing the census addition. Aside from the political pitfalls, they say Texans will suffer from fewer services.
"This is about hard-earned tax dollars," said Rep. Mary González (D-San Elizario).
They say the state could miss out on federal funding for programs ranging from education to highways due to underreporting.
But Texas is still unlikely to oppose the inclusion of citizenship status, since Attorney General Ken Paxtonl wrote a letter in support of it earlier this year.
In his Febraury letter to the US Census Bureau, Paxton wrote that citizenship data is necessary to comply with the Voting Rights Act. He also added that he doesn't believe a citizenship question will reduce participation in the census.
"The best way to fight this is to actually fill out the form and send it in," said Jose Carrillo of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.
A fight over the inclusion of a question which voting experts say could lead to even further battles over the way Texas draws its voting maps.