Census Deadline Extended to End of Month, Trump Still Seeks to Intervene

The 2020 Census deadline has been extended to October 31st, but the Supreme Court could reverse that, impacting the political balance of power for the next decade.

The U.S. Census Bureau has extended the 2020 Census nationwide until October 31st, but two cases still pend before the Supreme Court — one seeking to halt the count immediately, and another to exclude undocumented immigrants from the apportionment of seats in the House.

While federal courts have already blocked Trump’s premature termination of the census count, the Supreme Court could reverse those decisions.

Numerous complications have slowed down the census count this year — the pandemic, wildfires blazing across the west coast, and hurricanes pounding both shores. 

“Everything is adding up to one of the most flawed censuses in history,” said Rob Santos, vice president and chief methodologist at the Urban Institute and president-elect of the American Statistical Association.

An accurate count is particularly pivotal to Indian Country — a population historically undercounted and thus underfunded.

In the 2010 Census, on-reservation Native Americans and Alaska Natives were undercounted by 4.9 percent — one of the highest undercounts of any group. 

The 2020 U.S. census results will help determine how billions of dollars in federal funding flow into states and communities nationwide. The final census count determines the allocation of over $900 billion in annual federal spending for the next decade, including $5.6 billion for Tribal programs.

“[The census] is a domino effect. It impacts education, roads and maintenance, elder care — funding for everything on our reservation,” Charlaine Tso, who represents District 9 on the Navajo Nation’s Tribal council, told the Guardian. 

Additionally, inaccurate census data reduces the voting power of Native residents, undermining Tribal citizens’ representation in Congress, state and county elections. 

READ MORE: Tribes Aim for Accurate Census Count to Ensure Share of Federal Spending

COVID-19 Threatens Accurate 2020 Census Count, Financial Implications for Indian Country

Modified Timeline for Census Collection Increases Pressure on Tribal Response