census chaos
August 4, 2020

Four former Census Bureau directors say it's a big mistake to cut counting efforts short.

The Census Bureau said last week it would stop its in-person count on Sept. 30, a month earlier than its scheduled end date of Oct. 31. The move left census workers concerned a "massive undercount" is imminent. The former directors, who worked under nine past presidents, reflected that fear in a Tuesday statement, and called for the count's data delivery date to be extended to April 30, 2021, to avoid "seriously incomplete enumerations in many areas across our country."

In-person census interviews are used to count people who didn't respond to a paper or online census, and are essential for counting underrepresented and hard-to-reach populations. The four former directors acknowledged the in-person count was supposed to happen from May 15 through July 31, but was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. This rescheduling led the Census Bureau to determine it needed four more months beyond the end of 2020 to tabulate congressional redistricting and apportionment stemming from the count, and the former directors agreed.

"Our expert opinion is that failing to extend the deadlines to April 30, 2021, will result in seriously incomplete enumerations in many areas across our country," the former leaders said, calling on Congress to make those necessary legal extension. In addition, they asked Congress "to require the Census Bureau to continue data collection operations through Oct. 30, 2020." Kathryn Krawczyk

See More Speed Reads