Civil rights organizations around the country have raised concerns about the risks posed to the 2020 Census as the result of inadequate congressional funding to support it.
Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights said last week, “We’re increasingly worried that the Administration and Congress have not prioritized support for a fair and accurate census, and that ill-advised decisions in the next few months will further erode the chance [for a successful census outcome].”
Gupta continued, “There’s really too much at stake to ignore the growing threat to a successful census. Being undercounted in the census deprives already vulnerable communities of fair representation and vital public and private resources.”
A failed census effort would not only impact redistricting, particularly related to the Voting Rights Act, but could also impact funding for everything from education to health care.
Terri Ann Lowenthal, a consultant for the Leadership Conference Education Fund, stated, “A good census is a sound investment in everything we hold dear in this country—a representative democracy, government and elected officials that are accountable to the people, and business and industry investment to drive economic growth, good jobs, and innovation.”
Another factor impacting the process and causing grave concern is that the Director of the Census Bureau resigned in May and has yet to be replaced by the administration. To have a leaderless Census Bureau during a critical period—when key decisions are being made in the design and allocation of resources for the coming census—is unprecedented, and puts its integrity and outcome in jeopardy.
In 2017, congress failed to allocate sufficient funds for the upcoming census, and according to Lowenthal, the administration has requested far less funding in 2018 than the Census Bureau needs. She also stressed that unless congressional funding is increased, there will be fewer than half as many temporary census takers involved in the 2020 census than there were in 2010.