With the US Census Bureau’s decision to cut door-to-door outreach a month short, the 2020 census may undercount the population of tribal communities. In an article in The Spokespan Review, CEGA affiliated professor Randall Akee describes the challenges obstacles to census outreach.
“Tribal communities in the Inland Northwest face the prospect of a severe undercount in the 2020 census after the Census Bureau announced Aug. 3 that it would cut door-to-door counting short by a month.
Census workers originally were scheduled to visit households that had not responded between May 13 and July 31, but in April the bureau’s director announced a new schedule due to disruptions caused by COVID-19, pushing back the in-person enumeration to start Aug. 11 and end Oct. 31 and calling on Congress to extend the due date for final results.
But lawmakers, who failed to pass another pandemic relief bill before their summer recess began, have declined to grant the agency’s request, forcing the bureau to adjust its schedule again to deliver population numbers by Dec. 31. Door-to-door counting will now end Sept. 30.
‘We are taking steps and adapting our operations to make sure everyone is counted, while keeping everyone safe,’ Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham said in an Aug. 14 statement announcing the agency would follow up with nonresponding households by phone, email and with another round of paper mailings. ‘Our commitment to a complete and accurate 2020 Census is absolute.
But tribal leaders and lawmakers are warning that if Congress does not act quickly to extend that deadline, the critical tally of U.S. residents – which determines representation in Congress, government spending and more – could be dangerously inaccurate.”
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