Colorado Congressional Dems Argue The Census Count Shouldn’t End Early

August 12, 2020
Virus Outbreak-Census SurveyVirus Outbreak-Census SurveyMatt Rourke/AP
A 2020 census letter mailed to a U.S. resident.

Colorado’s Democratic Congress members don’t want to see the 2020 Census count cut short. A delegation letter, led by Sen. Michael Bennet, asks congressional leaders that the count — which includes self-response forms, door knocking, and phone calls — should continue until the end of October. And they want to see that count date included in the next coronavirus relief package.

“Colorado is one of the fastest-growing states in the country,” Bennet and Democratic Reps.  Jason Crow, Diana DeGette, Joe Neguse and Ed Perlmutter write. “Failing to accurately account for that growth in the 2020 Census will mean Colorado will lose out on its fair share of federal funding, putting additional strain on state and local resources as they work to rebuild over the next decade after the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

And the results of the count could determine if Colorado sees it’s congressional delegation grow by one additional seat.

The Census Bureau announced in early August that it would end its counting operation a month early citing the coronavirus pandemic. Some are concerned the decision will result in an undercount of traditionally hard to count groups from minorities and undocumented immigrants to rural communities.

Bennet views this as one more example of how the Trump administration has undermined the constitutionally-mandated decennial count.

“Its latest decision to shorten the census by a month in the middle of a pandemic is no exception,” he said in a statement. “Left unchecked, this decision will jeopardize a decade of vital resources for communities across Colorado.”

As of Aug. 10, Colorado’s self-reply rate is 66.7 percent. While it is above the national rate, there are some rural counties that have low response rates. Costilla, Grand, Mineral, San Juan and Summit counties response rates are in the 20s, while sparsely populated Hinsdale County has a response rate of just over 17 percent. And a majority of the counties have a slightly lower response rate than the 2010 count.

The Democrats write that the one month extension “will ensure the Census Bureau has adequate time to complete a full, fair, and accurate 2020 Census.” Delegation letters are typically sent to all members and those that want to sign on, do.

They aren’t the only ones worried about an undercount. A bipartisan group of 48 senators, including Bennet, have also written congressional leadership asking that the count continues until the end of October.

The census, which by law is conducted every 10 years, has to be turned in to the president by the end of the year. Because of the pandemic, the Bureau asked for and received more time to finish the count — Oct. 31. But the Bureau reversed course. The collection will end Sept. 30 so as to meet the Dec. 31 deadline for results. And overall, all response rates are slightly lower than the 2010 count.