A Supreme Court decision this Tuesday allowed the Trump Administration to effectively end the 2020 Census ahead of schedule.
The early cutoff has raised concerns about inaccurate census results, which can have far-reaching political and economic consequences.
A video put of by the City of Madison back in February encouraged residents to fill out the 2020 census.
“Over 2,000 dollars per person in federal funding is distributed every year based on census results,” says Aaron Perry in the video, “without an accurate count, our community will miss out.”
Originally, the deadline for the count was the end of July. Due to COVID, however, that deadline was extended — to August, then extended again to the end of October.
Ben Zellers is the lead staff person for Madison’s 2020 census, at the City of Madison Planning Division. He says that the shifting deadline, along with the pandemic, have thrown a wrench into counting efforts.
“It’s been all over the place, especially over the past four or so weeks,” Zellers says.
A Supreme Court decision on Tuesday allowed the Trump administration to move forward with a plan to move up the deadline for the US Census.
That original deadline was October 31st. Now, it’s ending two weeks early. The deadline for the census is now today, at midnight.
Jnae Thompson is a community organizer for the advocacy group Freedom Inc. She says the early cut-off disproportionately affects minority communities in Madison.
“Having an earlier deadline, especially among communities where resources are already not favorable, this can only hurt us,” Thompson says.
Thompson says minority groups are already undercounted during census counts, an issue only exacerbated by the pandemic and an earlier deadline.
“That increases the housing crisis, the food crisis, the economic crisis, and the police terror that Black communities especially and communities of color face every day,” Thompson says.
Shelia Stubbs represents south Madison both on the Dane County Board of Supervisors and in the Wisconsin State Assembly, and is a chair on the Complete Count Committee, which is dedicated to getting a complete census count in Madison. Stubbs says the committee worked especially hard this year to reach out to traditionally under-counted populations early on in the census.
“The count for the 2020 census has been a marathon, it’s not been a sprint,” Stubbs says.
According to Stubbs, Madison’s 2020 Census self-response rate is actually higher than the last census, in 2010.
While Zellers is hopeful that Madison’s count will be accurate, he says other regions in the country aren’t as well-off.
“I do think the constantly shifting dates by the federal government has been a detriment to outreach,” Zellers says.
Madison residents have until 11:59 tonight to fill out the 2020 census. If you haven’t yet, head to my2020census.gov or call 844-330-2020 to respond. Online results will be accepted until 5AM central time Friday morning.