Schatz, Murkowski Call On Census Bureau To Comply With Court Ruling, Continue Counting Until October 31
Census Bureau Currently Plans To End Self-Response, Field Operations For 2020 Census On October 5
U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) urged the Census Bureau to reverse its decision to end the self-response period and field data collection for the 2020 Census on October 5 and instead allow operations to continue until October 31. This bipartisan effort follows the Census Bureau’s decision to ignore a recent federal court ruling, which found that ending the counting operations early would result in a serious undercount.
“The Decennial Census has a profound impact on both representation and federal funding for all communities, and must be completed in a full, fair, and accurate manner,” the senators wrote in their letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham. “It is imperative that you extend self-response and field data collect operations to the original October 31 end date, and continue to count people across the country until then.”
On September 24, Judge Lucy Koh blocked the Census Bureau from ending the count on September 30 and delivering apportionment data to the president on December 31, 2020. However, the Bureau declined to follow the spirit of the ruling by selecting October 5 as the new target end date — just five days after the deadline that the judge found would result in an inaccurate count.
Delays in census operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic will result in a severe undercount of the population, specifically in Native, minority, and rural communities across the country. Extending the deadline until October 31, as the administration had originally proposed, will allow the Census Bureau to continue collecting and processing data, which will lead to a more accurate count.
Earlier this month, Senators Schatz and Murkowski introduced bipartisan legislation to extend three critical census deadlines and help ensure a fair and full count.
The letter is available here and below:
Dear Secretary Ross and Director Dillingham:
We write to urge you to extend both self-response and field data collection operations to October 31, 2020, as you initially planned on April 13, 2020. Extending the enumeration to October 5, 2020 is neither sufficient to prevent an undercount in communities across the country, nor does it comply with the September 24, 2020 order by Judge Lucy Koh in National Urban League v. Ross.
In staying the shortened timeline, and enjoining both of you and the Census Bureau from implementing the September 30, 2020 end date, the court built an extensive record of the impact that the shortened timeline will have. Judge Koh made clear in granting the motion for stay and preliminary injunction that the shortened timeline—ending self-response and field data collect operations on September 30 rather than October 31—“will likely result in an undercount in both the numbers that the Secretary reports to the States and the numbers that the President—who must draw on ‘decennial census data’—reports to Congress.”
The court also enjoined both of you and the Census Bureau from implementing the December 31, 2020 deadline for the delivery of apportionment data to the President. However, in documents provided to the court, the December 31 deadline was a justification for the October 5 end date. Thus your action runs counter to the court order. We strongly urge you to extend both self-response and field data collection operations to October 31.
The Decennial Census has a profound impact on both representation and federal funding for all communities, and must be completed in a full, fair, and accurate manner. It is imperative that you extend self-response and field data collect operations to the original October 31 end date, and continue to count people across the country until then. We thank you for your attention to this matter, and we look forward to your written response.