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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The Census Bureau has announced it will count prisoners as residents of the localities in which they are incarcerated rather than their home towns in the 2020 census. That's the bureau's longstanding practice, but advocates had hoped to push through a change.

Why it matters: Every 10 years, lawmakers use census data to draw proportional legislative and Congressional districts. Criminal justice reform advocates have long argued that counting prisoners who can't vote as residents of the towns where they’re incarcerated gives disproportionate representation to people who cast their ballots there. Only Maine and Vermont allow convicted felons to vote while in prison.

The two sides
  • The census notice: "Counting prisoners anywhere other than the facility would be less consistent with the concept of usual residence, since the majority of people in prisons live and sleep most of the time at the prison."
  • The opposition: "The Bureau’s decision is inconsistent with the way the ‘usual residence’ rule is applied to other similarly-situated people. The Census Bureau is picking favorites based on economic and racial privilege: if boarding school students are deemed to live at home, then the same logic should be applied to incarcerated people," Aleks Kajstura, legal director at the Prison Policy Initiative.

The bureau said in a notice on Wednesday that it had received 77,995 public comments in 2016 calling for an overhaul of the policy, and 4 opposing a change.

Quick facts: California, Delaware, Maryland and New York have passed laws mandating that prisoners be counted as residents of their home addresses, according to the Prison Policy Initiative, which has been advocating for an overhaul nationwide. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill last year to join that group. The Census Bureau has said it will work with states that want to opt out.

Go deeper

The dark new reality in Congress

National Guard troops keep watch at security fencing. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

This is how bad things are for elected officials and others working in a post-insurrection Congress:

  • Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.) said she had a panic attack while grocery shopping back home.
  • Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said police may also have to be at his constituent meetings.
  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) told a podcaster he brought a gun to his office on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 because he anticipated trouble with the proceedings that day.
Off the Rails

Episode 3: Descent into madness

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 3: The conspiracy goes too far. Trump's outside lawyers plot to seize voting machines and spin theories about communists, spies and computer software.

President Trump was sitting in the Oval Office one day in late November when a call came in from lawyer Sidney Powell. "Ugh, Sidney," he told the staff in the room before he picked up. "She's getting a little crazy, isn't she? She's really gotta tone it down. No one believes this stuff. It's just too much."

Convicts turn to D.C. fixers for Trump pardons

Trump confidante Matt Schlapp interviews Jared Kushner last February. Schlapp is seeking a pardon for a biotech executive. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

A flood of convicted criminals has retained lobbyists since November’s presidential election to press President Trump for pardons or commutations before he leaves office.

What we're hearing: Among them is Nickie Lum Davis, a Hawaii woman who pleaded guilty last year to abetting an illicit foreign lobbying campaign on behalf of fugitive Malaysian businessman Jho Low. Trump confidante Matt Schlapp also is seeking a pardon for a former biopharmaceutical executive convicted of fraud less than two months ago.