Editorial Boards Nationwide Agree: Congress Must Intervene to Save the 2020 Census

Census News 10.9,20


October 9, 2020

Contact: Charmaine Riley, [email protected], 202.548.7166

WASHINGTONWhile a recent court ruling has ordered the Census Bureau to continue counting operations through October 31, the bureau can no longer produce accurate, high-quality census numbers by the current reporting deadlines for apportionment and redistricting data.  Local and national editorial boards are demanding that reporting deadlines be extended to avoid a historic inaccurate count that would threaten communities’ ability to access billions of dollars in federal funding. Congress must set a clear path forward by pushing back those deadlines by 120 days each, as the administration requested in April.

Here are sample editorials from around the country calling for Congress to act and protect the 2020 Census:

Philadelphia Inquirer: “Congress must act now to extend the deadlines for completing census field operations from Sept. 30 to Oct. 31, and for final data reporting from Dec. 31 to April 21, 2021… In a year of painful reckonings with the stain of racism and its enduring effects, particularly on Black people, a census process that has historically undercounted communities of color ought to be expanding, not limiting, efforts to account for everyone” [Census Bureau needs more time, and Congress must act fast to make sure everyone gets counted, September 23]

Beaumont Enterprise [Texas]: “The U.S. House, controlled by Democrats, has asked the Senate to extend the deadline. But the Senate is controlled by Republicans who show no signs of making this reasonable change… voters should take notice of which politicians are in favor of commonsense governing on issues like this and which ones are not. Then they should factor that into their decisions in the voting booth in November.” [Census should be extended because of virus disruptions, September 14]

Washington Post: “The Senate should have passed a covid-19 relief bill months ago, with a census deadline extension in it. With the bureau up against a wall, senators should not wait to agree on the rest of a relief package to give the counters more time. The census needs clarity, now.” [The census is on the verge of disaster, September 13]

New York Times: “Even if the count gets another month to finish, that will be no help unless the other deadlines are extended, too. Americans shouldn’t have to rely on the courts to do the job the Constitution assigns to Congress.” [Why Does Trump Want an Inaccurate Census?, September 12]

Los Angeles Times: “The nation needs this current Congress — and the one that will take over in January and receive the apportionment numbers — to fulfill their responsibility to ensure the 2020 census is as accurate as possible… The nation must guard whatever integrity our shambled political processes have left against further damage from a president so willing to injure the democracy that elected him.” [The census is in trouble. So is democracy, August 31]

Winston Salem Journal: “Four former Census Bureau directors warn that not extending the deadline ‘will result in seriously incomplete enumerations in many areas across our country.’ There’s no good rationale for cutting short the Census, especially in the midst of a pandemic.” [Shorting the Census, August 27]

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Congress has previously extended deadlines around multiple other federal initiatives due to COVID-19 restrictions, including tax collection, Real ID use, student loan payments and mortgage relief applications. There’s no reason why it cannot allow the Census Bureau more time to complete its goals as well.” [Don’t rush the census, August 17]

Boston Globe: “It’s clear Congress must intervene… In 2010, the Census did not count about 1.5 million Black and Latino residents nationwide. To put it in perspective, that’s the equivalent of two congressional districts… This year, people of color are in even more danger of being severely undercounted as the Trump administration sabotages the Census. It must be stopped.” [Census count deadlines must be extended, August 10]

Desert Sun: “Congress and the president have the power to ensure that even in this uncertain time the most accurate count of the people is recorded by granting the census deadline extension in the coronavirus relief measure being negotiated now. They must not shirk that duty.” [Congress, President Trump must give Census 2020 the time it needs to count us, August 6]

Chicago Sun Times: “Taking a complete census is a particularly daunting challenge during a pandemic. You can imagine the difficulty of gathering data door-to-door, a crucial final step in the census process, at a time when many people won’t even answer the door. It should be an easy call, then, for Congress to extend the deadline by four months for the Census Bureau to complete its work.” [Democracy is under siege by efforts to keep you from being counted in the Census, July 31]

About the Census Counts campaign:

The Census Counts campaign, which is housed at The Leadership Conference Education Fund, brings together community-based organizations across a wide spectrum of advocacy: civil rights, immigrant, LGBTQ, disability, infant and child, poverty and homelessness, faith-based, labor, health care, education, youth, and more. Through education, training, organizing, and outreach, these organizers and advocates are working to ensure communities the census has historically missed are counted in the 2020 Census. The campaign has three main action groups:

  • The National Get Out the Count (GOTC) Coalition
  • The State Count Action Network
  • Census Champions: a network of elected officials and library trustees working to ensure a fair and accurate count.

Additional background on the Census Counts campaign can be found HERE.

The Leadership Conference Education Fund builds public will for federal policies that promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States. The Education Fund’s campaigns empower and mobilize advocates around the country to push for progressive change in the United States. It was founded in 1969 as the education and research arm of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. For more information on The Education Fund, visit civilrights.org/edfund/.