The Census Whirlwind Continues
A failed census fails Ohioans and fails the country. Without an accurate count, we will not meet the constitutionally mandated purpose of the Census: to get a real picture of America. As recorded in our previous blog posts, the process for an accurate and complete 2020 Census has been significantly impacted by ongoing politicization of the count and the process, which has been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Census Bureau, despite previously stating that it would be impossible for it to meet the existing reporting deadlines in the wake of the pandemic and having to postpone key operations, announced in July that it would cut short key 2020 Census operations, including shortening its door knocking operation (Non-Response Follow-Up (NRFU)) and self-response period by one month. According to the Census Bureau’s deadline, these critical efforts now will end September 30th as opposed to October 31st.
On September 6th, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order to stop the Census Bureau from winding down these critical operations at least until a court hearing that is set to occur on September 17th.
The Ohio Census Advocacy Coalition, co-led by CDF-Ohio, and joined by 17 non-profit and advocacy partners from throughout Ohio, submitted a letter to Ohio’s Senators urging them to support legislation that would extend the census timeline by four months.
THE 2020 DEADLINE EXTENSION ACT
Recognizing the harmful consequences of an inaccurate census count, Senators Schatz, Murkowski, and Sullivan introduced today (Monday, September 14th) the 2020 Census Deadline Extensions Act. This bipartisan legislation addresses many of our priority policy asks, including extending the Census deadline. Specifically the bill:
- Extends the statutory deadline for the delivery of apportionment data by four months—from December 31, 2020 to April 31, 2021
- Extends the statutory delivery of redistricting data by four months—from March 30, 2020 to July 31, 2020
- Required the Census Bureau to return to the original end date of 2020 Census field operations—October 31, 2020.
This bill follows a letter authored by Senator Schatz, with sign-on from 19 other senators, including our own Senator Sherrod Brown, to the Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham raising concerns and asking for more information about the data and methodologies that the Bureau plans to use to develop apportionment courts for each state.
Congress must act immediately to pass the 2020 Deadline Extension Act to extend the statutory reporting deadlines, and give the Census Bureau the time it has said it needs to complete the count. This isn’t a partisan issue. Every state in the nation will be forced to live with the consequences of an undercount for the next 10 years. Door knocking, is a critical operation that disproportionately covers the historically undercounted communities, we cannot cut it short.
We also recognize Senator Schatz for his leadership to protect the Census. Senator Schatz led numerous efforts to protect the integrity of this constitutionally mandated function of government and prevent the politicization of the census:
- The effort to ensure that a qualified, nonpartisan, and experienced director leads the Census Bureau;
- The Census IDEA Act ( 358) to ensure that any proposed changes to the decennial census are properly studied, researched, and tested;
- Support for full funding for the Census Bureau;
- Opposing the citizenship question and leading the congressional amicus brief in that case;
- Opposition to the president’s executive order to collect citizenship information ( 2233);
- Opposition to the president’s memorandum excluding undocumented people from apportionment; and
- Oversight over political appointees at the Census Bureau.