Experts warn about erroneous census data

The fate of this year’s census remains uncertain as deadlines have been set for finalizing the number approaches and experts cast doubt on the government’s ability to produce an accurate count of the country under such tight constraints.

The Corona virus epidemic and the Trump administration’s final attempt to exclude unspecified immigrants from the eventual tally have faced months of significant computation. Although, the Census Bureau is working to produce a final report to President Donald Trump by the December 31 deadline, advocates and even some census staff have expressed doubts that it will be able to do so.

Beth Link, part of the Census Campaign Campaign, Leadership Conference Education Fund, a civil rights organization, said, “It all really hinges on the fact that we have data we can trust, data we trust can do”. .

“And we need to listen to the data scientists who say we need more time and make sure that politics, politicians and partisans are not allowed to interrupt their work and manipulate the data. Congress is working right now. Can … but we really are. ” Saying: ‘Listen to the scientists. Listen to the experts. ‘

Experts and researchers have expressed deep concern about the quality and completeness of the data, especially after agency director Steven Dillingham said in a statement late last month that processing discrepancies were found in the data. He said that the discrepancies were routine, but media reports suggested that data scientists within the bureau were fretting about the all-too-important decanal count being correct.

The protesters rallied in the Supreme Court on 23 April 2014 to protest against the proposal to add the citizenship question to the 2020 census.Mandel Ngan / AFP – Getty Image File

“The career professional staff within the Census Bureau is very clear that their priority priority is a complete and accurate calculation,” said Chris Mihm, managing director of strategic issues at the Government Accountability Office, the federal watchdog agency. “And hitting the deadline, while important, is secondary to providing a complete and accurate calculation, and so they are saying we can’t meet until December 31.”

The census required by the Constitution every 10 years is used to determine how many members of Congress meet in the House of Representatives in each state. The data is also used to calculate local governments’ share of $ 1.5 trillion in many federal programs.

Mihm said even small, regular anomalies can make big differences.

“It is important to note that the distribution of the back seat in the House of Representatives is often very small,” he said.

For example, in 2010, the last seat moved to Minnesota based on a population difference of about 16,000 compared to North Carolina. He said that in 2000, the back seat moved to North Carolina over Utah because of the difference between about 900 people.

“You don’t need too many errors or too many mistakes or too many discrepancies to differentiate the seats of the House of Representatives,” he said. “We are in a census at a time where small numbers can have a huge impact on political representation, and that is for the next decade.”

The Census Bureau said in a statement that the public should trust the data because it is not only using career professionals within the bureau, but also working with external experts to evaluate the data, and because it The first will issue a detailed data matrix. Time.

A spokesperson said in an email, “The Census Bureau is working hard to process the data so that it can have a complete and accurate state population count by December 31, 2020.”

An internal Internal Census Bureau document sent to the House Oversight Committee this year and received an alert by NBC News warned that the agency already had less time and fewer resources to review the data than in previous years .

There are still legal challenges aimed at extending the deadline and pressuring the Congress, but lawmakers are not ready to strike an agreement that could give the agency more time.

The Supreme Court on Friday rejected Trump’s plan to exclude unspecified migrants from the final census count, though a 6-3 majority opinion said it was not expressing a view about whether the policy was unconstitutional Will be.

It said that much of the unknown opinion on whether the administration could carry out the scheme and what effect it would have on the states is unknown, while disgruntled judges said the court should decide the case because the constitution included census Needs to do “the full number of persons in each state.”

Legal and census experts said Trump’s plan is dead in the water, as it is unclear whether he will get the final numbers from the agency before going to office next month, and President-Elect Joe Biden both fulfilled the order. Is unlikely to do.

Tom Wolf, a lawyer for the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School, who has been involved in separate lawsuits to extend the deadline, said Trump plays a “very narrow role” in handling the data and he likely sued. Will file If he tries to execute the plan right now.

“If he eventually goes through with it, all the people in the lawsuits who bring the cases in court to Congress can challenge that,” he said. “Congress is not obliged to accept numbers that do not include all those who are to be included. In order to appeal to work, the president must distribute a whole number of people in every state Is. If President Trump. Leaves some people out of the count, they have not given enough reports. “

This issue is aggravating a process that could hurt minority populations and skew the distribution of federal resources and political power for the next 10 years

“The bureau basically needs to spend 8 needed months between counting in the area and do all the data processing, which will meet the basic constitutional and statutory requirements that the Census Bureau has to meet,” Wolf said. “The administration has tried to reduce in about 4 and a half months, and it is not possible to produce sufficient quantities with such haste.”

“You can have a count that instability includes everyone regardless of the status of citizenship, and the quality may still be poor,” he said.

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