Census Bureau to miss deadline for first time: report

Census Bureau to miss deadline for first time: report
© Greg Nash

The Census Bureau will reportedly miss its end-of-year deadline for the first time since the Dec. 31 date was set by Congress 40 years ago.

If the bureau fails to deliver the numbers used to determine congressional districts, President TrumpDonald TrumpHouse passes voting rights and elections reform bill DEA places agent seen outside Capitol during riot on leave Georgia Gov. Kemp says he'd 'absolutely' back Trump as 2024 nominee MORE’s effort to exclude undocumented immigrants from the count may not come to fruition, the Associated Press reports.

An anonymous, unauthorized source in the Census Bureau confirmed the expected delay to the AP on Wednesday. The news outlet notes that documents obtained early in December showed that bureau officials did not expect to have the numbers ready until after President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenThe West needs a more collaborative approach to Taiwan Abbott's medical advisers were not all consulted before he lifted Texas mask mandate House approves George Floyd Justice in Policing Act MORE assumes office.


After he assumes office, Biden will have the ability to rescind Trump's directive that excluded people in the country without authorization from being considered when the number of congressional seats for states are being divvied up, the AP notes. Apart from deciding how many House seats every state gets, the census also determines how federal funds are distributed.

Terri Ann Lowenthal, a former congressional staffer who specialized in census issues told the AP, “The delay suggests that the census bureau needs more time to ensure the accuracy of census numbers for all states."

As the AP notes, the Census Bureau is legally required to deliver population figures to the president by the end of year, however there is no penalty in place if the bureau misses the deadline.

The Dec. 31 deadline is less than a century old, and according to a historian who spoke to the AP, the census operated fine before it had a deadline.

The historian, Margo Anderson of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee said, "It has not been a very controversial issue until this year, the year of a pandemic and the Trump administration flip-flopping on its goals and its efforts to take the undocumented out of the apportionment count."

She added, "They are still trying to wrestle the numbers into something that looks right.”


In October the Supreme Court granted the Trump administration's request to end the Census count early this year. The administration claimed that the earlier end date was necessary for the Bureau to meet it's end-of-year deadline. Critics argued that the earlier ending would negatively impact minority communities who had not been counted.

The 2020 Census count has faced several challenges, the AP notes, struggling to operate during a pandemic, hiring shortages and an administration that has reversed its intended goals several times.

Lawsuits and personal accounts from census workers this year claimed that counters were pressured to falsify data and use alternative methods of counting that lacked accuracy. Many workers, under pressure from supervisors to fill out as many forms as possible, reportedly resorted to guessing how many people lived in some households.