WASHINGTON, D.C. (WOWK, AP) – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, D-WV, is weighing in on the decision to move the deadline for responding to the 2020 Census to September 30.
This change moves the deadline up a month from the previously decided Oct. 31, 2020, deadline. The U.S. Census Bureau announced the update yesterday as legislation that would have extended the deadlines stalls in the U.S. Senate.
“It makes no sense that the U.S. Census Bureau is hindering extra efforts to help every American respond to the Census by making the asinine decision to move up the Census response deadline by an entire month in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic that is affecting response rates and outreach across the country,” Manchin said.
Manchin isn’t alone in his concerns. Census experts and civil rights activists worry the sped-up deadlines could affect the thoroughness of the count.
The Census count determines how $1.5 trillion in federal spending is distributed and how many congressional districts each state gets.
“In West Virginia, only 54.6% of West Virginians have completed the Census, the third-lowest response rate in the country, putting us far behind the rest of the nation in being counted. That will have a serious impact on our state for years to come. West Virginia relies more on Census-directed funding than almost any other state, and every West Virginian who doesn’t complete the Census represents $20,000 over the course of ten years in lost funding for schools, roads, and other essential services,” Manchin said.
Due to delays from the pandemic, the Census Bureau pushed the deadline to wrap up field operations from the end of July as it would normally be to the end of October. The bureau had also asked Congress to move the deadline or turning in apportionment data used for drawing congressional districts to April 30, 2021, saying it would be impossible to meet the previous Dec. 31, 2020, deadline.
“The extra month is vital to an accurate count since many door-knocking programs and other in-person outreach efforts — which are vital to counting our hard-to-reach rural areas — were halted due to the pandemic,” Manchin said. “This change hurts West Virginia, and I will be asking the Census Bureau to reverse their decision and give every West Virginian and American the chance to be counted.”