WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — The U.S. Census Bureau announced the nationwide count will end on Thursday, following a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court which allowed the federal government to stop counting a month earlier than originally planned.
According to the Census Bureau, people have until Thursday to be counted:
- Internet self-response will be available across the nation through October 15, 2020 until 11:59 pm Hawaii Standard Time (HST), (6:00 am Eastern Daylight Time on October 16, 2020) Visit 2020Census.gov to respond today.
- Phone response will be available for its regularly scheduled time on October 15, 2020. Click here for schedule and a list of numbers.
- Paper responses must be postmarked by October 15, 2020.
- Nonresponse Followup census takers will continue resolving nonresponding addresses through the end of the day on October 15, 2020.
President Donald Trump’s administration had asked the nation’s high court to suspend a district court’s order permitting the 2020 census to continue through the end of the month. The Trump administration argued that the head count needed to end immediately so the U.S. Census Bureau had enough time to crunch the numbers before a congressionally mandated year-end deadline for turning in figures used for deciding how many congressional seats each state gets.
A coalition of local governments and civil rights groups had sued the Trump administration, arguing that minorities and others in hard-to-count communities would be missed if the count ended early. They said the census schedule was cut short to accommodate a July order from Trump that would exclude people in the country illegally from the numbers used to decide how many congressional seats each state gets.
The high court put on hold a lower court ruling that ordered the once-in-a-decade population count to continue until Oct. 31.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented against the ruling.
“The harms caused by rushing this year’s census count are irreparable. And respondents will suffer their lasting impact for at least the next 10 years,” Sotomayor wrote.
In a previous high court filing by the Secretary of Commerce, which is in charge of the Census process, the government argued that the agency would have trouble meeting the Dec. 31 deadline for the Census only because of court delays.
“There is no reason to mandate another 21 days of field operations. The Bureau has already achieved levels of enumeration consistent with other recent censuses,” Jeffery B. Wall, the acting solicitor general, wrote on behalf of the federal government.
According to the Census Bureau, 99.9% of housing units were accounted for in the 2020 Census as of Sunday.
John Thompson is the former director of the U.S. Census Bureau. He calls the census a cornerstone of our democracy.
“To begin with, it’s in the Constitution that the census is used to Reapportion the House of Representatives and the Electoral College,” Thompson said. “The results are used to redraw Congressional and state and local voting districts.”
The results are also used to allocate $1.5 trillion per year in federal funds, according to Thompson. He said Tuesday’s ruling means counting is likely done for the 2020 Census.
“What that means is counting will stop. Once the Census Bureau stops, they’re not going to be able to restart,” he said. “They spend a lot of time recruiting people and getting trained. Once they let those people go, and they’re not going to keep them if they don’t need them, then they won’t be able to start data collection again.”
With plans for the count hampered by the pandemic, the Census Bureau in April had proposed extending the deadline for finishing the count from the end of July to the end of October and pushing the apportionment deadline from Dec. 31 to next April. The proposal to extend the apportionment deadline passed the Democratic-controlled House, but the Republican-controlled Senate didn’t take up the request. Then, in late July and early August, bureau officials shortened the count schedule by a month so that it would finish at the end of September.
By sticking to the Dec. 31 deadline, control of the apportionment of Congressional seats count would remain in the hands of the Trump administration no matter who wins the presidential election next month.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi issued a statement calling the decision “regrettable and disappointing.”
“The President’s attack on the Census count and his refusal to provide time beyond December 31 for submission of the Census report clearly violate the Constitutional mandate enshrined by our Founders for a fair and accurate Census. Further, the President’s actions threaten to politically and financially exclude many in America’s most vulnerable communities from our democracy,” Pelosi said.
“The Supreme Court’s decision to enable the President’s shameful campaign to curtail the Census is regrettable and disappointing. The President’s attack on the Census count and his refusal to provide time beyond December 31 for submission of the Census report clearly violate the Constitutional mandate enshrined by our Founders for a fair and accurate Census. Further, the President’s actions threaten to politically and financially exclude many in America’s most vulnerable communities from our democracy.
The Trump effort to end the Census early has been resoundingly rejected by experts, including in the Government Accountability Office, Commerce Department Inspector General and Census Scientific Advisory Committee, who all warn that the accelerated schedule will result in an inaccurate Census that will deny vulnerable communities the representation and funds they are entitled to. Specifically, the Census Bureau officials have stated that curtailing the Census is ‘ludicrous’ and will result in ‘fatal data flaws that are unacceptable for a constitutionally mandated national activity.’
The House of Representatives will continue to fight in the Courts and in the Congress to ensure that every person has a say in our American Democracy, and to ensure a fair and accurate Census as the Constitution and our American ideals demand.”SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE NANCY PELOSI
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.