Protecting New York from a census crisis
We all must work together to protect every New Yorker’s constitutional rights and civil liberties. That’s why Common Cause New York is working to ensure a fair and accurate census count for 2020. The census is a complex operation to collect important demographic, social, and economic information, and serves as the country’s best source for reliable nationwide and community-level data. Key decisions about how the 2020 Census will launch are being made now, and poor choices could have enormous impacts for all of us in the years to come.
A complete and accurate count for the 2020 Census will have wide ranging and long term impacts throughout New York State. The census directly controls the number of New York representatives in the U.S. Congress. Policymakers use census data to identify community needs and distribute federal program dollars to states and localities based on community characteristics measured by the census.
There is serious concern that the current level of federal funding for the Census Bureau will compromise the fairness and accuracy of the 2020 Census. The underfunding of key preparations has the potential to result in undercounting the population, particularly in at-risk communities. The Census Bureau will be implementing online and phone options in addition to the traditional paper for filling out the census, but the current level of funding does not provide for adequate testing and security, reducing the amount of people that will respond. The lack of federal funding will also drastically decrease the number of census workers that can be hired, further reducing the amount of people that will respond.
The White House administration is pushing to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 Census. Asking about citizenship will drastically reduce the amount of non-citizens who respond to the census, resulting in a severe undercount of at-risk communities. A federal judge in New York struck down the addition of the citizenship question to the census, but the White House administration is expected to appeal this decision.
Common Cause New York is part of New York Counts, a coalition of civic organizations working to:
- Advocate for adequate federal funding for Census 2020;
- Build public awareness about the importance of the census to increase the response rate;
- Collaborate with trusted organizations to create connections to New York’s diverse communities for census awareness;
- Ensure participation by counties, cities and towns in the Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA) program.
A complete count not only helps ensure fair and accurate congressional, state, and local redistricting but determines whether communities receive funding for local infrastructure and social services that reflects true population levels. The distribution of political power, economic investment and government funding for at-risk communities relies heavily on a fair and accurate 2020 Census count.