House Democrats inquire about possible census undercount in Detroit, other communities

Democratic members of the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Thursday asked the U.S. Census Bureau for a briefing on potential undercounting that occurred during the 2020 census, particularly in Detroit.

In their letter, Democratic Reps. Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn MaloneyOvernight Energy & Environment — Biden announces green buildings initiative House panel asks five oil company board members to testify House Democrats inquire about possible census undercount in Detroit, other communities MORE (N.Y.), Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinOath Keeper charges renew attention on Trump orbit Carville advises Democrats to 'quit being a whiny party' Biden makes final Fed board picks MORE (Md.), Brenda LawrenceBrenda Lulenar LawrenceMichigan Republicans sue over US House district lines House Democrats inquire about possible census undercount in Detroit, other communities Hillicon Valley — YouTube takes some heat MORE (Mich.) and Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibOvernight Energy & Environment — Biden announces green buildings initiative Tlaib blasts Biden judicial nominee whose firm sued environmental lawyer House Democrats inquire about possible census undercount in Detroit, other communities MORE (Mich.) cited a recent analysis from the University of Michigan that found resident units in Detroit may have been undercounted by as much as 8.1 percent.

The lawmakers requested that the Census Bureau sit for a briefing later this month and provide information on the bureau's process of analyzing potential undercounts, steps being taken to address any miscounts and what steps communities can take to amend their populations if an undercount has occurred.

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"The Census Bureau was forced to execute the 2020 Census under extremely challenging conditions, including the coronavirus pandemic that forced the Bureau to cut short the Census timeline and alter procedures," said the committee members.

"The 2020 Census also suffered from repeated efforts by the Trump Administration to politicize the Census for partisan gain, including failed efforts to add a citizenship question, exclude undocumented immigrants from the count, and speed up data processing to exert more political control over the outcome."

These challenges during the 2020 census count may have caused "significant undercounts of some communities and groups, particularly those that are traditionally hard to count," according to the committee.

In 2020, the Census Bureau missed its Dec. 31 deadline for delivering the population count for the first time in the four decades since the deadline was put in place. The Trump administration had sought to include questions on the census that activists argued would discouraged undocumented immigrants from participating.

The Trump White House also asked the Supreme Court to allow for the census to be ended early, going against the recommendations of career Census Bureau workers.

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Ultimately, six states gained House seats while seven lost seats based on the 2020 U.S. census.

In November, an analysis from the Urban Institute found the census undercount was probably not as bad as previously believed. A simulation conducted by the group estimated that the census had a net overcount of 3.6 percent and a net average undercount of 4.1, resulting in an undercount of 0.5 percent. In comparison, the 2010 census had a nearly perfect net outcome.

The group found that states such as Alaska, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York and Texas were likely undercounted by more than 1 percent while states such as Iowa, Minnesota and New Hampshire were overcounted by about 0.5 percent.