During a press conference in Atlanta on May 29, 2020, the rapper Killer Mike urged rioters and looters to go home instead and fill out their census forms.
“If you sit in your homes tonight instead of burning your homes to the ground, you will have time to properly plot, plan, strategize, organize and mobilize in an effective way. And two of the most effective ways are first taking your butt to your computer and making sure you fill out your census, so that people know who you are and where you are…”
The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), Native American Rights Fund, and the National Urban Indian Family Coalition have created a 1-page flyer featuring four steps to safely count native households.
The Census Bureau and NCAI also partnered in developing a how-to guide for virtual canvassing of Indian Country.
Denice Ross of Georgetown University wrote in The Hill that, “For example, local census partners are spreading the word that residents who need help filling out the form can call the Census Bureau. However, if the bureau were to share data on call volumes, then partners could tell residents when the best time to call is, rather than clogging up the phone lines and causing long wait times that discourage residents from completing the process. Complete Count Committees and Census Bureau Partners need that type of data in an open format so they can incorporate it into their own carefully planned outreach efforts.”
Ross proposed several data streams that would be useful for the Bureau to provide
“weekly analysis on response rates for specific hard-to-reach populations like children ages 0-5 and renters to hone partner outreach messaging,” in addition the existing self-response rate reporting;
“Completion rates for the non-response follow-up workload so trusted local messengers can encourage participation”;
“Group quarters workload completed by type of facility (nursing home, college dorm, correctional facility, etc.) and by state, so state and local officials can provide support for sectors falling behind in the count”;
“hourly wait times by language line” from the Census Bureau’s call centers, “and the most common questions from callers, such as ‘when will I get my paper form?’”; and
“recruiting goals by county,” if the Bureau needs more workers, including “demographic characteristics and language skills,” so that local partners can help identify potential job candidates.”
TOP DOC: A coalition of organizations called The Census Project, which advocates for an “inclusive and accurate” census, sent a letter to House and Senate appropriators last week asking for nearly $1.7 billion in fiscal 2021 funding for the Census Bureau. That total is $9 million more than what the Trump administration requested, they noted. The groups also urged lawmakers to provide additional assistance in future pandemic relief legislation.
Politico Pro Budget & Appropriations newsletter. By Caitlin Emma. May 18, 2020.
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) wrote to the House Oversight & Reform Committee on May 14, 2020 about the delays to the 2020 Census “and their state impact on redistricting,” as well as the Census Bureau’s use of “differential privacy as its statistical method for protecting individual data,” two issues presenting “a conundrum for many states.”
Delayed census operations and reporting “present serious hurdles for states constrained by state constitutional and statutory requirements for districting and elections.” Meanwhile, “differential privacy has caused state concerns regarding the accuracy of the data they will receive.”
NCSL asked for a “meaningful consultation” between the Census Bureau and states regarding their concerns and for vigorous Congressional oversight.
A group of Senators, led by Sen. Brian Schatz (D), have written to Senate leadership requesting “additional funding for the Census Bureau” to specifically “address the operational changes to the 2020 Census in response to the current public health crisis.”
The May 8, 2020 letter acknowledged the need to work on the delays in statutory deadlines sought by the Administration, but said that “it must be paired with additional funding for the Census Bureau to ensure that every person is counted. The extension is expected to cost an estimated $1.5 billion.”
The additional funding the Senators recommended “should be used specifically on:
Personal protective equipment for census field workers, call center staff, and other employees;
Additional mailings to households that have not self-responded;
Targeted outreach to hard-to-count communities;
Targeted outreach to the location of the 2018 End-to-End Census Test;
Special operations to hand-deliver census packets in rural and remote communities, on American Indian reservations, in areas recovering from natural disasters, in Alaska, and in Puerto Rico;
Enumerating people experiencing homelessness;
Increased in-language outreach and assistance to supplement 2020 Census partners in non-English speaking communities;
Changes in Census Bureau’s communications plan, including advertisement and social media;
An increase in the number of call center staff to address higher volumes of self-responses by phone; and
Facilitating internet access in low self-response neighborhoods.”
“A delay in receiving census data will impact redistricting in most states,” according to a new report from the Brennan Center for Justice, and may “require changes to deadlines and processes set by state law.”
With delays to census field operations, the Administration has proposed to significantly extend the statutory deadlines for data reporting. The report goes over all the adjustments states will need to make to still be able to complete their required redistricting. “Depending on how long this process takes,” courts may “need to intervene and draw temporary maps” and “adjust candidate filing periods and/or delay primary elections.”