Michigan census leaders urge last-minute push

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling, leaders of Michigan’s census count are urging people to do their part before Thursday’s new deadline.

“Listen, if you haven’t completed the census, do it today, it only takes a few minutes,” said Kerry Ebersole Singh, the director of the Michigan 2020 census program. “There are real stakes for our communities. It’s a small thing to get resources, your federal tax dollars back into your community.”

The U.S. Census Bureau announced Wednesday that the count will officially end at the end of the day Thursday. The Supreme Court issued their ruling late Tuesday, siding with the White House, issuing a stay on a district court ruling that would have let the count continue through the end of October.

President Donald Trump’s team argues the count needs to end immediately so numbers can be verified and turned in before the end of the year. But officials with the Census Bureau say they need more time after losing three months of on-the-ground canvassing due to COVID-19. In April, there was a bipartisan push among lawmakers to adjust the census schedule, but that legislation has failed to pass through Congress.

“They went to Congress and they said we need until October 31 to complete our operations,” said Singh. “There was bipartisan support, including the White House, at that time. And then since then, we’ve been on a roller coaster of timelines.”

The U.S. Census Bureau says 99.9% of American households have been counted, but low-income communities and communities of color are the most likely to be undercounted, especially when pushing up the deadline. Being undercounted translates to less federal funding and less representation in Washington and their home states.

“The biggest thing we are concerned about is we want to make sure there is sufficient time to ensure Michigan’s most vulnerable communities are fully counted,” said Singh.

Canvassers usually start their work to follow up in May. However, due to the pandemic, they didn’t start their work until mid-August this year. As of Aug. 11, Michigan had approximately 1 million uncounted or unverified households. Canvassers were able to cut that number down to 20,000 as of last week, and an estimated 4,000 households as of Wednesday.

To fill out your census or learn more, go to 2020census.gov.