As of Monday, North Carolina was 41st in the nation for its total response rate to Census 2020. The already daunting challenge of counting every person living in America was made even more difficult by the pandemic.
The pre-COVID plan prioritized self-responses — people counting themselves online or by mail. That was to be followed by door-to-door canvassing beginning in May, with an end date of July 31 to begin cleaning the data like checking for duplicates. Post-COVID, the deadline shifted to the end of October.
Rebecca Tippett directs UNC-Chapel Hill's Carolina Population Center. She says that too changed.
"And then at the end of July, early August, all of a sudden the administration came out and said, ‘You know what? Instead of October 31st we're going to end September 30th,'" says Tippett. "So, what you're doing is you're now truncating the collection period by a month off the significant plan and you're having a much shorter window to process the data."
U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh has since ordered a return to the October 31st end date. Census data is used to apportion seats in the House of Representatives, for redistricting purposes at the state and local level, and funding formulas for more than $1.5 trillion dollars of federal funds annually.