The Census Bureau, embroiled in controversy and disruptions over the past year due to the coronavirus pandemic and pushback from the Trump administration says it will not be able to release its official census count until April 30.
That’s four months after the Dec. 31 deadline established by Congress in 1976 – a deadline the bureau has never missed until 2020 – an unprecedented year.
Democrats and Republicans alike are awaiting the results of apportionment counts, or state population counts as it will determine each state’s share of votes in the house of representatives and the electoral college for the next 10 years.
“I think the worst thing that we could do would be to deliver data that had question marks with it. We need to give you the best data that we can,” said Kathleen Styles, the bureau’s chief of 2020 census communications and stakeholder relations, NPR reports.
Groups like the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute [USHLI] are also awaiting the census count, something they believe will positively impact their community.
“The 2020 Census was conducted to serve two primary purposes. They are to determine the allocation of federal funds to cities and states and to determine the allocation of political power,” USHLI said in a statement.
“Now that President Biden has revoked former President Trump’s order to exclude noncitizens from the numbers, the process for the allocation of power through redistricting will begin this spring. Nothing will impact the Latino community more, over this decade, than redistricting.”
On inauguration day, President Joe Biden issued an Executive Order on Ensuring a Lawful and Accurate Enumeration and Apportionment Pursuant to the Decennial Census allowing for all citizens of each state to be counted regardless of their lawful immigration status.
The White House said during the 2020 Census, Trump announced a policy that “broke from this long tradition.”
“At no point since our nation’s founding has a person’s immigration status alone served as a basis for excluding that person from the total population count used in apportionment,” Biden said in the executive order.
The order added that before the civil war and the abolition of slavery, the constitution did not give equal weight to every person counted under the census. However, every apportionment since ratification of the 14th Amendment has calculated each state’s share of representatives based on “the whole number of persons in each state.”
Biden says the former administration’s policy required the Census Bureau to “inappropriately rely on records related to immigration status that were likely to be incomplete and inaccurate.”
He added that Trump’s policy conflicted with the principle of equal representation enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, census statutes and historical tradition.