Thursday, January 11, 2018

Fears of undercount spur states to check census databases

"Amid fears that a lack of money will prevent an accurate count, states are gearing up to identify the people the 2020 U.S. census is most likely to miss," Tim Henderson reports for Stateline, the nonpartisan, nonprofit news service of the Pew Charitable Trusts. "The current task for state and local officials is to verify the Census Bureau’s residential address list: Starting in February, the bureau will turn over address lists to states and local governments for double-checking that must be finished within 120 days."

Checking databases like property-tax rolls and 911 records can help state governments correct errors in the bureau's databases, but small, local sources might help the most. "In New Mexico, for example, some small towns have used holiday-turkey distribution lists to prove to census officials that new addresses are real," Henderson reports.

States have good reason to make sure every citizen is counted, since $590 billion in federal funding and apportionment of Congressional seats depends on census data. People in rural areas, immigrants, minorities, migrant workers, and people who don't trust the government are among the most likely to be under-counted, especially because of the bureau's new system that will rely heavily on using the internet.

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