In April, as Covid-19 began surging in the US, the Census Bureau found itself hampered in counting the US population due to the effects of the virus. The bureau decided to extend the deadline for collecting data to October 31st to allow for more time to count the estimated 60 million people who have yet to respond. However, in an unexpected change of course, on August 3rd the agency announced it would end data collection on September 30th, a full month earlier than scheduled. As of early August, almost 40% of US households had yet to respond to the census questionnaire, which could lead to severe undercounts across the country, especially of Black and Latinx communities.
Accurate counting of the population via the census is essential for allocation of federal dollars, assigning proportional representation within the House of Representatives, and providing demographic information to inform policy decisions at all levels of government. Even in non-pandemic times, marginalized communities are the most likely to be undercounted. An accurate census count is critical to ensure traditionally undercounted groups, like Latinx, Black, low-income, and non-English-speaking households are adequately documented. The Census Bureau reported missing 2.1% of Black Americans and 1.5% of Latinx Americans in its 2010 count, while overcounting non-Latinx White Americans by 0.84%. Without robust and accurate data, the 2020 Census could be used to weaken the voting power of voters of color via partisan gerrymandering and systematically under-fund jurisdictions with larger proportions of non-White residents.
While the House has already passed legislation granting the Census Bureau an additional four months to collect data, the Republican-led Senate is willing to end the count early. Insist your representation allow more time for the US Census so a fair count can be achieved.