US: The Consequences of an Incomplete Census

The 2020 census is critically important for our democracy. It not only tallies the U.S. population but in essence determines the people’s ultimate political power. And right now, it’s a mess. The counting process has been disrupted by the pandemic. Fears of the Trump administration’s crackdown on immigrants are preventing some people from filling it out. And recently, the Census Bureau announced it was moving up its count deadline by one month, stoking concerns that the statistics the census will collect and utilize for the next decade will be woefully incomplete. To make some sense of what’s going on and why it’s so worrying, I spoke with Hansi Lo Wang, a reporter on the 2020 census for NPR, on Tuesday’s episode of What Next. Our conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Mary Harris: How many people remain uncounted at this point?

Hansi Lo Wang: The Census Bureau estimates that roughly 4 out of 10 households have not been counted yet.

That seems like a lot.

It is a lot, and door knocking is cut short a full month. It was expected to last through October because of the pandemic. The Census Bureau decided to end it on Sept. 30. Shortening this time period is just another hurdle to getting a complete count.


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