Big trouble for the 2020 census

Staff Editorial


Controversy over the 2020 census began due to President Trump’s attempted citizenship question, which thankfully the Supreme Court blocked from being enacted. Problems surrounding this upcoming census have not stopped there.

The 2020 census is underfunded and understaffed and is in danger of underrepresenting a large portion of the country.

The census does not serve to poll Americans just to update statistics and finding fun facts about the American population. The census is one of the most important turn-of-the-decade practices that has lasting impacts on the nation for the next 10 years.

This decennial survey is the running count that decides the number of congressional seats states receive, as well as redrawing voting district lines and informing the allocation of more than $1.5 trillion in federal spending.

The 2020 census was voted by the 2012 Congress to not receive any more than the $12.3 billion of the 2010 census. The 2020 census is estimated to cost $15.6 billion.

For the first time, the Census Bureau is encouraging people to fill out the surveys online.

The switch to digital might be able to improve the census’ outreach, but government agencies do not have the best track record as of late in maintaining large traffic volume websites. The debacle, and most recently the disaster that was the Iowa Caucus voting app, immediately come to mind.

For the online census submissions to be accurate and effective, the software used needs to be airtight in terms of function and security. Any glitches in the system could lose hundreds — even thousands — of counts.

In the case of the census being attacked by hackers — which it has already been threatened — if the systems in place are strong enough to prevent infiltration, there is little estimation to the amount of damage they could cause.

The poor and immigrant populations have been historically underrepresented by the census and it is beginning to look like 2020 will be no different. Unfortunately, it is these communities whose lives are often shaped by the people in power and government funding.

Although the question of citizenship will not be appearing on this year’s survey, the Census Bureau has performed a lackluster job at explicitly communicating this to the populace. The burden of clearing up the rumors and miscommunication regarding the citizenship question has been primarily left to the non-profit sectors.

The next census in the year 2030 is a long way away and the people of this country cannot afford for their next 10 years to be influenced by inaccurate figures and headcounts.

The census should be indicative of the American population, but this year’s survey has been set up to fail to reach any such goal.