Tonight at midnight is the deadline to be counted in the 2020 U.S. Census. That deadline was moved up two weeks after a U.S. Supreme Court decision this week.
“We really need Californians to all answer today. This is your last chance, and we don't want anyone to be invisible or forgotten or not have the opportunity to be counted because their communities are really depending on this, the funding, the representation for the next ten years,” said Ditas Katague, director California Complete Count.
She said although Monterey, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties had higher response rates than a decade ago, about 25 to 30 percent of residents still haven’t been counted. And due to the pandemic, many of those are students who left their Central Coast campuses before they could fill out census forms.
“Students, if you hadn't received a form and had to go home, or what have you, go online today and fill it out for the address that you're at on April 1,” said Katague. “Otherwise your campus communities will lose those dollars that are needed for transportation, housing...all of the things that we receive funding back based upon the count.”
Katague and others are concerned about what happens next.
“Once this data collection is done this evening, the real work begins at the Census Bureau—to clean up the data, to do the data quality...and there's no transparency in that,” Katague said. “So many advocates are a little bit worried about,‘will the densus bureau do what they need to do to make sure that a complete and accurate count happens.”
Cal Poly politics professor Michael Latner says census data is used for more than dolling out federal dollars and drawing political districts. It’s used as the basis for so many business and private sector policies and decisions.
“We're talking about billions and billions of dollars of economic revenue,” Latner said. “That's based on this data that will be tainted, distorted for a decade.”
Latner said the 2020 Census has been sabotaged by the current federal administration.
“What we are seeing is a level of structural racism we really have not seen in this country,” Latner said.”I've never known of the census to be used and politicized for this purpose before.”
To fill out a census form before midnight, go to My2020census.gov.