census

United States Census Bureau

The 2020 Census has faced a lot of hurdles. Aside from the coronavirus pandemic, widespread unrest, and economic turmoil, it was recently announced that the census will be ending all counting efforts a month early. 

The impact could be devastating for communities with low-response rates. Among other things, an inaccurate census count can lead to less federal aid and less political representation.

Updated at 5:58 p.m. ET Thursday

The U.S. Census Bureau is ending all counting efforts for the 2020 census on Sept. 30, a month sooner than previously announced, the bureau's director confirmed Monday in a statement. That includes critical door-knocking efforts and collecting responses online, over the phone and by mail.

Maayan Silver

The coronavirus has altered countless plans — including those by people coordinating the U.S. census.

Taken every 10 years, the census is a tally of the nation's population. It leads to the redrawing of political districts in states and the reapportionment of representation in Congress. The census drives more than $675 billion in federal spending over the next decade on things like hospitals, roads and vital programs.

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In cities and states throughout the country, census takers have been preparing to ramp up their efforts this month. Already, the 2020 census has been plagued by misinformation. That, coupled with a divisive political climate, has made many Americans suspicious of participating.

Cities around the country, including Milwaukee, had planned big, community-focused events to raise confidence in the census. But now as the nation grapples with the novel coronavirus, most of those events have been cancelled and suspicions remain in some communities most at-risk of being undercounted.

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The 2020 census will impact the nation — from determining how much federal money will go to states, to dividing congressional seats, to helping city planners organize and build for their futures. However, a less than stellar rollout and controversy over a citizenship question proposed by the Trump administration have severely hampered projections of its accuracy.

Counting Wisconsin: What You Should Know About The 2020 Census

Feb 11, 2020
Sue Vliet / Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service

Shortly after returning home from school one day in spring 2010, luscely Flores, who was 13 at the time, and her mother heard a knock on the door. Peering through the window, Flores’ mother saw a man holding a laptop. He wore business casual attire and a lanyard around his neck. 

Her mother was hesitant to open the door. At the time, ICE raids were becoming more frequent, and the Flores family, as undocumented residents, didn’t want to risk deportation. When Flores realized the man was a census taker, she encouraged her mother to open the door.

Robert Alexander has been away from home for more than a decade. His days and nights are spent locked up behind walls topped with barbed wire.

"Prison kind of gives you that feeling that you're like on an island," says Alexander, 39, who is studying for a bachelor's degree in biblical studies while serving his third prison sentence.

Clad in an oversized gray sweatshirt under the fluorescent lights inside the visiting room of Wisconsin's oldest state prison, he is more than 70 miles from his last address in Milwaukee.

driftwood / stock.adobe.com

The 2020 census is critical for all states. One important reason? It determines how much money each state gets from the federal government for the next decade.

In 2015, the federal government distributed more than $675 billion to individual states. The logic is the more people, the more resources. But Wisconsin has a problem: for years a number of people have not been counted.

Updated at 7:54 p.m. ET

President Trump says he is looking into delaying the 2020 census, hours after the Supreme Court decided to keep a question about citizenship off the form to be used for the head count.

Trump tweeted that he has asked lawyers whether they can "delay the Census, no matter how long, until the United States Supreme Court is given additional information from which it can make a final and decisive decision on this very critical matter."

Updated at 5:53 p.m. ET

The separation-of-powers standoff between Congress and the executive branch deepened on Wednesday over a dispute about access to materials involving the controversial citizenship question planned for the 2020 census.

The Justice Department notified the House oversight committee that it's withholding documents sought by the panel's chairman because it says they're shielded by executive privilege — the doctrine that permits an administration to conceal some of its internal workings.

ZACH GIBSON/GETTY IMAGES

Milwaukee officials are keeping  a close eye on the census case being argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Mayor Tom Barrett says if the Trump administration gets its way, it'll be tougher to get an accurate count when the census begins next year. 

The census case is about whether the Census Bureau can ask people if they are U.S. citizens. President Donald Trump says his administration wants more citizenship data to better enforce the Voting Rights Act.

Updated April 1, 2020 at 10:40 a.m. ET

The federal government is trying to get every U.S. household to answer some personal questions for the 2020 census. It's part of a once-a-decade tradition of counting every person living in the U.S.

Updated at 5:50 p.m. ET

The Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether the Trump administration can add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. The decision grants the administration's request for an immediate review of a lower court's ruling that stopped plans for the question. A hearing is expected to be held in April.

Updated at 5:08 p.m. ET

A federal judge in New York has ruled against the Trump administration's decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman ordered the administration to stop its plans to include the controversial question on forms for the upcoming national head count "without curing the legal defects" the judge identified in his 277-page opinion released on Tuesday.

The head of the U.S. Census Bureau says the controversy over a new question about U.S. citizenship on the 2020 census is complicating its preparations to conduct a national head count.

For the first time since 1950, the Census Bureau will ask all U.S. households about citizenship status, specifically, "Is this person a citizen of the United States?"