A federal judge’s ruling has extended the U.S. Census count, which was due to end Sept. 30, by an additional month. It is now set to end Oct. 31, according to U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh, Northern District of California, who issued a preliminary injunction Sept. 24 to keep the government from stopping the census. The decision could be appealed by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Burnet County Judge James Oakley said the extension might be necessary to get a more accurate count.
“Haste makes waste,” Oakley said. “It’s wise for us to take the time necessary within good boundaries — you don’t want it go on forever. But, we need to do what we need to do to get the best information.”
The higher the count for Burnet and Llano counties, the more federal money for which the governments in those jurisdictions will be eligible. Also, the count is used to determine representation in both the federal and state houses of representatives.
According to the most recent figures, which do not yet include local door-to-door counts, Burnet County’s self-response rate is 58.7 percent — 2.2 percent higher than 2010. In Llano County, the number is lower than 2010 by 1.9 percent. Llano has reported 47.1 percent this year as opposed to 49 percent for the previous count.
As of Sept. 24, the national count, which includes 29.6 percent from enumerators, is at 95 percent. The self-response rate is 66.2 percent.
The judge’s ruling comes just as regional census bureaus begin to wind down operations. The last day on the job for all U.S. Census regional media specialists — the employees tasked with answering local media questions about the census — was Friday, Sept. 24, the day after the ruling. As of Friday afternoon, the national Public Information Office for the Census had not responded to DailyTrib.com questions about what will happen next with the count.
The U.S. Constitution mandates a head count every 10 years of all people living in the country. Traditionally, April 1 is set up as Census Day, the day the population snapshot is taken. Forms are sent by mail, but recipients are able to send in household information online this year for the first time ever.
Enumerators are sent door to door soon after Census Day to count non-responders by hand. This year, again for the first time, census takers have been making phone calls and sending emails as well as knocking on doors.
The door-to-door count was suspended over the summer because of COVID-19 restrictions. It picked up again in August after the count was extended, first to Oct. 31, and then back to Sept. 30. Deadline for ending the count is usually July 31.
The original timeline for organizing data and reporting results to the president has not changed. The information is to be delivered to the president on Dec. 31 of the census year. The Census Bureau has until March 31 of the next year to deliver redistricting counts to all 50 states.
Despite the wrangling over dates, you still have time to respond to the census if you act immediately. Go to my2020census.gov to start the questionnaire.
By the way, responding to the census is a legal requirement for every person over the age of 18 living in the United States, whether a citizen or not. Those refusing can be fined up to $100. Fines for giving false information can go as high as $500.