Giving Compass' Take:

• Stanford Law professors Pamela Karlan and Nate Persily discuss the census, law, and the hurdles that exist to get an accurate count. 

• What can donors do to help address the significant barriers to accuracy for the census? Why is it critical to address the potential undercount? 

• Read why the U.S. 2020 census is critical.  

Getting the US census count has never been an easy task, but this year’s census has hit several major challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

Adding to those challenges, the Census Bureau announced it would cut its efforts short, ending the count a full month early.

Enshrined in the US Constitution and regulated by law, the census takes place every 10 years. The US Census Bureau is charged with gathering critical data about the American population for the federal government—data critical to the fair distribution of federal aid and representation in Congress.

Here, Stanford Law professors Pamela Karlan and Nate Persily discuss the census, law, challenges to getting an accurate count, and why it matters:

It’s been a challenging census, hasn’t it? Even before the pandemic began, we had the citizenship questions.

Persily: There are so many problems with this census. We started out thinking that the main controversy with it, before the pandemic, was going to be the fact that the administration was trying to add a citizenship question. That, because of lawsuits, did not happen. And people are also still concerned about citizenship. It’s still the shadow that’s been cast over this census and so there are whole populations that have estimated that the costs of participating in the census exceed the benefits.

Karlan: Even though the citizenship question isn’t going to be asked, a kind of folklore about the question leads people, for example, who are in mixed-status families, not to want to say, “And also my brother is living with us,” or “I have two children, one of whom is a US citizen and one of whom is not a US citizen living here.”

And as a result, the census will get undercounts and then if the eviction moratorium goes away, you have people who are evicted and they should have been counted where they were living on April 1, but they’re not living there anymore. And so that’s an issue as well.

Read the full article about U.S. census by Sharon Driscoll at Futurity.