There are legal and practical merits on both sides of the issue. Nozzolio pointed to a section of New York’s Constitution that says the census data “shall be controlling” for redistricting purposes. He argued this supersedes any law, and blasted the corrections data as having “no check or verification.” Linda Foglia, a spokeswoman for the Department of Correctional Services, said addresses are taken at the time inmates begin their sentences, and are not checked.
Little noted this, too, and also argued that inmates should be counted where they are because “they utilize resources where they are residing.” This includes sewer, water and emergency services.
Democrats point to another constitutional provision that says, “For the purpose of voting, no person shall be deemed to have gained or lost a residence … while confined in any public prison.”
The Census Bureau produces data showing these prisoners — as well as college students and other temporary residents — in its reports, according to Dale Ho, assistant counsel to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and an advocate of counting prisoners at their last address.
“Our view is that it fits squarely within Article III, Section 4,” he said. “It’s our expectation that the law will be followed.”