In a week dominated by President Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey, you could be forgiven for missing the imminent departure of another, less prominent federal official.
…The results of the decennial Census—the next will be in 2020—will determine how state and federal political districts are drawn; which Americans are “counted” for representation; and how federal dollars, many of which are allocated on a per capita basis, are spent.
…”It is vital, it is critical, that the public has confidence in the integrity of the process and faith in the results,” said Lowenthal. “Anything that compromises that, compromises the whole mission.”
Prewitt warned that if the agency doesn’t receive the funds or political support it needs, it could force a public crisis. “If you underfund the census, you get an undercount,” he said. “And if you don’t count people, they are politically invisible, in effect.” If the 2020 Census appears to undercount certain populations or demographics in certain cities or states, he said, that could discredit the agency’s perceived competency.
…The public could also lose faith in the legitimacy of the Census results if they are seen to be politicized, Lowenthal said.
…It has happened before. After the 1920 Census, members of Congress refused to accept data showing the increasing urbanization of the country, and voted not to reallocate seats based on that supposedly flawed data.