In the US, the Supreme Court has ruled that the Trump administration can end the census count early, despite warnings from four former Census Bureau directors that this could mean hard-to-count communities being missed, and less accurate data being produced.
Throughout the census process, the administration has been accused of 'meddling', after first attempting to add a citizenship question; and more recently announcing it would end its data collection a month early on September 30th. Federal law requires the Census Bureau to report data for apportionment by 31st December, but in April the Bureau had to suspend its in-person data collection efforts for several months due to Covid-19, and it therefore asked for an extension to 31st October for data collection and a corresponding four-month extension to the reporting deadline.
The census helps to decide the number of congressional seats awarded to each state, and consequently the voting power each state has. In the words of the Bureau's AD for Field Operations, it was 'ludicrous' to expect the Bureau to 'complete 100% of the nation's data collection earlier than October 31 in the middle of a pandemic'. However, the Supreme Court has now declared that the Trump administration can end fieldwork operations tomorrow even though lower courts had ordered the Trump administration to extend counting until 31 October.
Commenting on the decision, the US Conference of Mayors President and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer stated: 'The Supreme Court's decision to allow the Trump administration to abruptly end all counting efforts for the 2020 Census seriously jeopardizes the accuracy of the count and threatens to cost our cities hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funds. The administration's ongoing attempts to truncate the schedule is creating widespread confusion and is undermining the integrity of the count. With so much at stake, and given the extraordinary challenges created by the pandemic, we must do all that we can to ensure a complete and accurate count that fully represents our cities and metro areas.'
The US House of Representatives says it will continue to fight in the courts and in the congress, to ensure a fair and accurate census.
Web site: www.census.gov .
All articles 2006-21 written and edited by Mel Crowther and/or Nick Thomas unless otherwise stated.