WNPR

Stand Up And Be Counted: The 2020 Census

Feb 7, 2018

Do you remember where you were on April 1, 2010? That's the last time the U.S. Census Bureau counted you as one of the 323.1 million people who live in the U.S. Don't remember? No problem. It's time for the 2020 Census. 

The U.S. Census Bureau is one of the most important agencies in the federal government.  It determines Congressional representation or, how many seats each state gets in the U.S. Congress. It directs how billions of dollars of federal funds are allocated,  protects voting rights, and can drive the gerrymandered districts that limit those rights. This is why it's so important to get an accurate count.

The goal is to count every person that lives in America - citizen or not. Yet, the Department of Justice wants to add a citizenship question this year that many say will depress participation of undocumented immigrants fearful of deportation and lead to an inaccurate undercount. 

The Census Bureau needs three years to work out what questions will be included and hire the staff necessary to obtain an accurate count. This year, the director resigned over underfunding, the government hasn't appointed a director or deputy director to lead the way, and the census will be online for the first time.  We could be in trouble.

GUESTS: 

  • Justin Elliott - Reporter for ProPublica
  • Ari Berman - Senior reporter at Mother Jones and the author of Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Right in America
  • Margo Anderson - Professor of History and Urban Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee and the author of The American Census: A Social History

Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter. 

Colin McEnroe and Jonathan McNicol contributed to this show.