The Census Bureau Wants to Cut Counting by a Month, Disenfranchising Millions

By N. Jamiyla Chisholm Aug 04, 2020

The U.S. Census Bureau announced yesterday (August 3) that it will end door-to-door census collection and close self-response options by September 30—a month early—to get a head start on data processing, even though the release it issued states that only “63 percent of all households in the Nation have responded" to the 2020 Census. Note that 63 is nowhere close to 100 percent, which is what the Census is required by the Constitution to cover.

To meet the new deadline, Census Bureau director Steven Dillingham wrote in the statement, “We will improve the speed of our count without sacrificing completeness.” Yet back in April, the Los Angeles Times reported that commerce secretary Wilbur Ross had asked Congress for a four-month extension because of COVID-19, only for the administration to do an about-face yesterday.

Vanita Gupta, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, explained in a recent op-ed for The Washington Post yesterday how “this move is part of a series of administration actions whose intent is unmistakable: to suppress minority representation and gain political advantage.” From trying to add a citizenship question last year, which the Supreme Court blocked, to pushing to exclude non-documented residents this July, Gupta wrote that as a result of the administration’s new efforts to disenfranchise millions, up-to-date numbers are lagging in diverse and rural states across the country, compared to 2010.

“By its actions, the administration is forcing the bureau to neglect millions of people of color, rural residents, people with disabilities and others by disrupting the modified timeline crafted by experts,” Gupta wrote. In conclusion, in case anyone forgot what the Census is for, Gupta reminded readers that “no one, not even the president, should get away with undermining a complete and accurate count for partisan gain [and that] failure to complete the census well will fail all of America at a perilous moment.”

Equally sinister is the concern that Trump is trying to have all counting wrapped up by the December 31 deadline so that he can be the one to certify the results. “I am concerned that the administration is seeking to rush the process and sacrifice the accuracy of the census for political gain—that the president’s intent is to have all of this done before he leaves office,” House Committee on Oversight and Reform chair Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) told the Los Angeles Times.