In his July 7th column, Ross Nelson argues that the census was always intended as a means of counting citizens, not persons who could not vote. His claim is simply—and obviously—wrong.

First of all, women and children were always counted. Although male children could one day (assuming surviving childhood) be able to vote, female children could not. Additionally, most states only allowed white males who also owned property to vote. Finally, we have the 3/5 compromise which determined how slaves would be counted. Clearly, the census was never based on voting rights.

As for intent, that certainly does matter in much of U.S. jurisprudence.

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