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Census Count Ends After Supreme Court Sides with Trump


Thursday, October 15, 2020   

LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- The roller coaster that has been the once-a-decade U.S. Census will come to an early end today, despite the failure to reach many tribal communities because of the COVID-19 health crisis.

Census workers were in what's known as the "non-response follow-up phase," knocking on people's doors, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Tuesday the Trump administration could shut down the count early.

A consortium of advocacy groups, cities, counties and tribes sued to maintain the Oct. 31 deadline.

Jessica Imotichey is a census partnership coordinator for the Nevada area.

"This is primarily about apportionment for the House of Representatives," Imotichey explained. "So it really is about representation, having your voice heard and represented in Congress."

Critics believe the court's ruling will now allow President Donald Trump time to alter the count while in office, by excluding unauthorized immigrants from the numbers used to reallocate congressional seats and Electoral College votes for the next 10 years.

Tribal communities have suffered disproportionate cases of COVID-19. Health repercussions led the Trump administration to extend the count through Oct. 31, but its sudden, later reversal prompted court battles.

Imotichey explained how a possible undercount of tribal communities could negatively affect their lives.

"Tribes often run their own housing programs, they have their own health-care centers and clinics," Imotichey noted. "They maintain the roads on the reservations, so transportation dollars are at stake."

In the 2010 Census, American Indians and the Alaska Native population living on reservations was undercounted by almost 5%, one of the highest undercounts of any group.

People can still fill out a census form online until 2:59am Pacific Time Friday morning, at 2020Census.gov.

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