Counting all people in the United States has always been a huge task for the Census Bureau. But if ever is a more difficult year than most people calculate, it looks like 2020.
Yet, the constitution demands that a count be conducted every 10 years – amid epidemics, bitter presidential elections and even a fight against the future of the Supreme Court.
That sharp mix of factors continued this week when a court allowed the Trump administration to close the census before its set deadline. The Census Bureau said Wednesday that people can fill out the online census form by 6 a.m. Eastern time on Friday and that paper answers must be postmarked by Thursday. People can also fill out the census by phone on Thursday, when even Census Bureau activists will end efforts to reach homes that have not responded.
Here’s what to know about the calculation, why it was cut short and what comes next.
What happened to the census this week?
The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed the Trump administration to close before the 2020 census ends, effectively reducing the number of U.S. residents held every 10 years.
The court order, technically only allows the census to be temporarily halted while the Trump administration fights in the lower court with hosts of other groups as to whether the census can be stopped sooner. But in practical terms, the decision means almost an early end to the census because the census cannot be easily resumed and there is little time left before its current deadline of late October.
Supreme Court judges have given no reasons for their order, which is the court when the court deals with emergency petitions. They simply stated that the count could be stopped as the appeal progressed.
“The harm associated with incorrect census is avoidable and unbearable,” said Justice Sonia Sotomoyer.
Continue with Election 2020
The ruling was a major victory for the Trump administration, which was struck down by multiple courts in an effort to end the count early. It was a bitter defeat for state and local governments and advocacy groups that claimed to continue the census.
Why is a census important?
The census is the most complete tabulation of U.S. residents, their demographic information, and where they live. That information is used to allocate millions of dollars in political power and government funding over the next decade. It also serves as a basis for how congressional and local polling districts are drawn.
Some academics and advocates fear that ending the census too early could mean that White House officials, instead of Census Bureau experts, could use population numbers to determine representation in the House of Representatives and state and local governments. The census is supposed to be a nonpartisan, data-based exercise.
Most experts said that a short census would only exacerbate the existing undercounts that exist for census workers, including people from minority groups, the poor and the youth.
How did we get here?
The court’s decision on Tuesday was the latest move in a complex saga.
The legal battle focused on whether the Commerce Department, which oversees the Census Bureau, complied with federal law when setting a Sept. 30 deadline. But the subtext of the case has always been whether the cut-short calculation could be so accurate as to determine political representation and serve as the basis for the distribution of government funds.
The deadline to complete the count has been moved several times, first because of the coronavirus epidemic that shut down so many census works – in which Census Bureau workers always go from house to house counting hard-to-reach people – last spring.
But in August, Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur L. Ross Jr., Oct. 31 to 30 Sept. Ordered a deadline of up to, this step is necessary for Mr. Trump to deliver the primary information by the requested time limit. Law. Mr. Ross’s move was prompted by objections from career census experts who argued that it completely undermined the accuracy of the census.
What happens next?
Advocates for the plaintiff in the lawsuit, which was originally filed to prevent Mr. R.S. from narrowing the length of the census, said they would ensure that the Census Bureau was not forced to make further cuts in the accuracy investigation over a period of months. The period in which population data is processed and verified.
And experts warn that the Supreme Court’s order is approved as soon as possible, which could not only damage the accuracy of the vote count, but also undermine public confidence in it.
Terry Ann Lonthall, a longtime census expert and adviser to several groups pushing for a particular group, accused the disruption caused by census management by the census administration “inevitably undermining any confidence in census results.”
The administration could “do the right thing, and allow that operation to wind down in an organized manner over the next two weeks, or it could continue to push for faster results, accuracy and quality blaming,” he said.
Christine Clarke, chair of the Committee of Advocates for Civil Rights under the law, said the lawsuit, which represents many of the parties to the lawsuit, would “irreversibly harm efforts to achieve a fair and accurate census.”
How does the calculation work?
Despite many obstacles, the Census Bureau has tried to fill some of Tally’s vacancies. More than 16,000 census takers have been evacuated from places they consider completed, sending them to states where the response is low, especially in the Deep South.
But to meet the earlier deadline ordered by Mr. Ross, the Census Bureau backtracked on some verification procedures and allowed census takers to accept less reliable information – such as the word of a neighbor who lives in an unoccupied building – in the process.
That allowed the bureau to report on Saturday that it is .999.9 percent of all households in the country. That so-called perfection rate is new; In the past censuses, more precise measures were taken.
Experts say that the estimate of .999.9 percent completion could mask the gaps in the calculation coverage. While the bureau does not provide details of which households are included in the criteria, it does not represent the households that actually filled out the census form. .Latanu, it appears to have been included by any means, checking from the list of unusual houses, though inaccurate.
Are there any other fights over the census this year?
In this most unusual year, arguing over how long the census should take is not a battle of words.
In July, the Trump administration announced that it would try to exclude people who had entered the country illegally from the population, the total number sent to Congress, to determine how many seats each state gets in the House of Representatives. Not counting illegally in the country would exclude millions from the counts and possibly shift several seats from the Democratic states to the Republican states.
The Constitution requires Congress to divide the districts, with the total number of individuals in each state counted, using census data, and a federal court ruled last month that the administration’s move was illegal. The Supreme Court may hear the administration’s appeal as early as December.