Citizenship question drives uncertainty over 2020 census

Article author: 
Lydia Wheeler
Article publisher: 
The Hill
Article date: 
6 February 2018
Article category: 
National News
Article Body: 

Uncertainly is swirling over whether the Census Bureau will be able to get an accurate population count for the 2020 census, as the agency considers a Department of Justice (DOJ) request to add a controversial question about citizenship status to the census questionnaire.

The stakes are enormously high.

Census data is used to redraw House districts, and the number of House seats each state receives also plays a part in determining each state’s number of electoral votes.

Experts say a citizenship question could seriously skew the numbers if people are too frightened to respond.  

Phil Sparks, co-director of The Census Project, said even a small change to the census could have big ramifications on the makeup of Congress and, ultimately, the outcome of elections....

Congress has only rejected the results of a census once. After the 1920 census revealed a major and continuing shift in the population from rural to urban areas, conservatives refused to reapportion House seats....

Using new population estimates, Virginia-based Election Data Services said in a December study that California is close to losing a congressional seat as a result of the 2020 census.

Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina, Oregon, Montana, Florida and Texas, meanwhile, could all gain seats, according to the study....

By law, the bureau has to provide Congress with the final wording of the census questionnaire by March 31.