Census officials make final push before deadline

California Connection

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Census takers will no longer be going door to door after Thursday.

The deadline was extended to Oct. 31 at the request of the Trump administration earlier this year but it then reversed itself in July, saying the president needed the numbers by the end of the year as required by law.

The Supreme Court agreed over the objections of groups that said more time was needed because the count was hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Answer tonight, answer today, answer before you have dinner,” Ditas Katague, director of California Complete Count – Census 2020, said.

The urgency reflects the stakes. The census count will determine how many congressional seats a state gets, how local voting districts are set up and influence how billions of dollars of federal funding will be allocated for a variety of programs is determined by population. 

Getting an accurate count was always going to be tough. The darker colors on census maps show areas where responses might be tough to get, areas where there are renters, young men, immigrants, households with more than one family or who don’t have an internet connection.

“Those are the areas probably back in 2010 would have to have an enumerator knock on their door five or six times to get them to respond,” Katague said.

This year, the census relied much more on online responses instead of mail questionnaires or census takers.

State outreach efforts helped it outperform other states in hard to reach areas — but can only go so far.

“We were depending on them to knock on as many doors as it took to get a complete and accurate count,” Katague said.

About 30% of hard to reach households are not expected to respond.

The Census Bureau will have to use data analysis estimates for a final number, which is why a last day push is so important.

“Your community and your family will depend on this for the next 10 years,” Katague said.

The official deadline is midnight Hawaii time or 3 a.m. PST.

California census officials say it takes only minutes to fill out the short census questionnaire on the My 2020 Census website. They say it can easily be finished in minutes.

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