Slower roll-out to census likely

More time requested for in-person outreach to undercounted communities

The Census Bureau announced last week that it is seeking approval from Congress for an additional 120 days to deliver final apportionment counts due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mayors Cassie Franklin of Everett and Jenny Durkan of Seattle were among 40 mayors across the country who supported this extension in a letter to the Census Bureau. The mayors cited Pew Research Center data that shows minorities, older adults, rural residents, and those with lower levels of education and income are less likely to have broadband service at home.

They also mentioned factors that can reduce census participation, including lack of internet access, historically undercounted populations, and low English proficiency. Undercounted communities may require in-person canvassing by census staff—work that can’t be done while most of the U.S. is under stay home orders.

All four counties in the central Puget Sound region have some areas considered among the hardest to count in the nation.

There were 103 census tracts in central Puget Sound with less than a 74% return rate in 2010, according to CUNY data used by the National League of Cities.

An area undercounted in the census may have less federal aid and representation in government.

PSRC uses Census Bureau data in its long-range plans such as VISION 2050 and to ensure models for future growth are grounded in current, reliable information about the region’s communities.

Apportionments for FTA funding, which PSRC helps distribute, are also based in part on census data.

Normally, the Census Bureau delivers the counts to the president on December 31. With the four-month extension, the census would be delivered on April 30, 2021.

On July 31, 2021, the Census Bureau would send redistricting counts to the states. This lets states know how many seats in Congress they have for the next 10 years. States then redraw congressional and state legislative district lines to reflect population shifts.

Washington state's redistricting plan is due to the state Legislature by Nov. 15, 2021.