Murkowski Welcomes Court Ruling Moving 2020 Census Deadline Back to Late October

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) issued the following statement after U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California Judge Lucy H. Koh issued a preliminary injunction which prevents the Trump administration from ending the 2020 Census count by Sept. 30, a month before the previously scheduled completion date of Oct. 31. Judge Koh also bars officials from delivering completed population data to the White House on Dec. 31 versus the April 2021 delivery date earlier requested by the administration in response to the pandemic. The Judge found that a shortened census timeline would likely lead to inaccurate data for historically undercounted communities. Alaska is well-known to be a difficult state to enumerate and flawed census data would hurt affected communities for a full decade.

“I’ve continued to stress the importance of ensuring a fair and accurate census count and the need to address the various challenges the Census Bureau has faced this year that were created by the COVID-19 pandemic. This court ruling is welcome news. By going back to the October 31 deadline, we are providing everyone the necessary time to help ensure we get the census count right,” said Senator Murkowski. “The reality, though, is that this court ruling may face an appeal, continuing the uncertainty for census operations. My bipartisan legislation with Senator Schatz, the 2020 Census Deadline Extensions Act, is still important to provide certainty and clarity to the Census Bureau that they will have the time needed to finish the counting operations and data processing, ensuring a more accurate population count. In the meantime, I encourage everyone to respond to the Census if you have not already done so.”

Background: U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) previously introduced the 2020 Census Deadline Extensions Act, alongside U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Congressmen Don Young (R-AK) and Ruben Gallego (D-AZ). This bipartisan, bicameral legislation aims to provide for additional time to complete the 2020 Census and is also cosponsored by Senators David Perdue (R-GA), Gary Peters (D-MI) and Steve Daines (R-MT). Their bill extends the Census operations of nonresponse follow-up and self-response to October 31, 2020 as well as extends the Census statutory reporting deadlines for apportionment and redistricting. The Department of Commerce Office of Inspector General issued a report on September 18, 2020 finding that the acceleration of the census schedule increases the risks to a complete and accurate 2020 Census.