Protecting New York from a census crisis
Every 10 years the US government must comply with one of the few mandates of the founding fathers – Article One, Section Two of the Constitution mandates regular, nonpartisan censuses to give the American people power over their government. 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.
A complete and accurate Census count has a wide-ranging and long term impact for New York State. Policymakers use census data to identify community needs and distribute federal funding to states and localities based on community characteristics measured by the census. The census also directly controls the number of Congressional representatives New York is allocated in Congress.
The national census is an extensive operation. As soon as the previous census is concluded, the U.S. Census Bureau begins preparing for the next one. That’s why Common Cause New York is stepping up and speaking out to demand a fair and accurate Census count in 2030 — to ensure that all New Yorkers are represented.
During the 2020 cycle, the Census was conducted amidst a global pandemic, which resulted in interruptions and delays in the Census Bureau’s operations. Additionally, the Census Bureau was dramatically underfunded and struggled to hire sufficient staff to reach more remote and traditionally undercounted communities. State funding for outreach was nonexistent and in New York where more than 200 languages are spoken, the Census had severely limited language access for non-English speakers. As a result, New York’s congressional delegation shrunk by one House seat, part of a long term trend in which New York’s congressional delegation has gotten smaller each cycle, falling just 89 residents short of retaining it.
As we prepare for 2030, Common Cause New York joins a coalition of civic organizations calling on our elected officials in New York to:
- Demand adequate funding for census outreach;
- Ensure language support is provided by the Census Bureau to our communities;
- 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.
New Yorkers deserve to have their voices heard and to know that their vote counts in selecting the people and policies that will determine the future of their communities.