What you need to know about the count: NPR
Texas gained two additional votes in Congress and the Electoral College for the next decade, while Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon each gained one seat, based on the first set of 2020 census results, released Monday. The seven states losing one vote each are California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
U.S. Census Bureau Acting Director Ron Jarmin reported the state’s new population count during a virtual press conference. The long-awaited announcement reset the balance of power for the next decade in the House of Representatives and the Electoral College, where each state’s vote share is tied to its census figures.
The rush for the last of the 435 seats for voting members in the House was remarkably tight.
“If New York had had 89 more residents, they would have received one more seat,” Kristin Koslap said at the press conference. Koslap, senior technical expert on the Congressional breakdown of the 2020 census within the Census Bureau‘s population division, said instead that the final seat went to Minnesota.
The results had been delayed for months due to delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic and interference from the Trump administration last year. Under current federal law, those state population numbers were expected by the end of 2020. But the bureau had been warning since April 2020 that census results would be delivered later than originally planned. A bipartisan group of lawmakers recently renewed efforts in Congress to formally extend legal reporting deadlines for the 2020 count.
Last year’s count was the nation’s 24th census — a once-a-decade tradition required by the Constitution since 1790 — and it’s the ninth count the U.S. government has attempted to include every person living in the country in the figures used for redistribution. seats in Congress. Prior to the 1940 census, the phrase “excluding untaxed Indians” in the Constitution excluded certain American Indians from apportionment counts.
Here’s what else you need to know:
Why did it take so long to get these census results?
COVID-19 forced the agency to postpone the in-person count for months, and office door knockers also had to deal with hurricanes and wildfires in parts of the country. As NPR first reported, the census was further disrupted last July when the Trump administration decided to abbreviate the timeline for collecting census responses and performing quality checks on the data. collected. It took extra time, the bureau argued, to sort a high volume of duplicate and incomplete responses.
Were people who died of COVID-19 last year counted in the census?
The census was intended to be a snapshot of the country’s population on Census Day (April 1, 2020), so it was not meant to count U.S. residents who died before that date, according to the bureau’s residency criteria. People who died on or after April 1 should have been counted.
Is there information on race, ethnicity, age, and gender, as well as population figures for counties, towns, cities, and other smaller areas, in these census results?
No, this information will be released with the second round of 2020 census results. This more detailed demographic information is needed to redraw electoral districts. It is also used to guide the distribution of approximately $1.5 trillion annually in federal funds for Medicare, Medicaid, education and other public services for local communities.
When will these demographics be released?
The office plans to start publishing this information before August 16. New redistricting data was due to states by the end of March. But the bureau said it was behind on running quality checks after the Trump administration pressured it to prioritize new state numbers that former President Donald Trump wanted to modify before leaving office.
However, the schedule may change depending on the outcome of two lawsuits. Alabama and Ohio are asking federal courts to compel the bureau to release this data by the end of July so they can meet state redistricting deadlines. The Alabama lawsuit also attempts to prevent the bureau from adopting a new technique, known as differential confidentiality, to keep personal information contained in anonymized census data confidential. If Alabama wins, data release would be delayed “several months” from last August, the agency’s chief scientist said in a recent court filing.
How accurate are these census figures?
It will be difficult to say for sure immediately. The bureau’s career officials said the agency found nothing in the data to suggest the census was not “suitable for its constitutional and statutory purposes.”
But no US census has been perfect. The pandemic and last-minute changes to the schedule by Trump officials have heightened concerns about the quality of the count for some groups, particularly historically undercounted groups who are less likely to participate in the census unless they do not receive visits in person from knockers. The Trump administration’s failure to push for a citizenship issue may also have further discouraged households with immigrants and people of color from getting counted.
For the first time, the bureau is releasing quality measures at the national and state levels on the same day it releases the first numbers. But census experts say measurements at a more detailed level are needed because the quality of the count can vary widely from neighborhood to neighborhood.
Researchers from the American Statistical Association are conducting an independent count quality audit, and they are ready to publish its first report in June. The Census Bureau conducts its post-count survey to estimate the number of people who may have been missed as well as the rates of overcount and undercount among racial and ethnic groups. These results should not begin to be released until December.
Can we redo the census?
It’s unclear whether the state’s population numbers from a recast can be used to redistribute seats in the House of Representatives — the main purpose of the count as defined by the Constitution. Federal law allows for a “middecade census” in 2025, but the results cannot be used to redistribute the House. There’s also a question of money: Would Congress be willing to fund another count soon after what’s estimated to be the costliest census in US history at $15.6 billion? ?
What happens after the first census results?
These state population counts and the reallocation of House seats are part of a handover process involving the Secretary of Commerce overseeing the office, the President, and Congress. Ultimately, the numbers are certified by the Clerk of the House, who is then responsible for officially reporting them to the states.
Some states that lost seats could sue the Biden administration to challenge the House split, which could change some states’ new number of congressional districts ahead of next year’s midterm elections. The new Electoral College map, with votes based on each state’s last share of congressional seats, goes into effect beginning with the 2024 presidential race.