Every ten years, the United States Census Bureau conducts an enumeration of the American population. This remains one of the most important duties of the federal government. The results of the census determine many important decisions such as how many members from each state can serve in the U.S. House of Representatives (and by extension, the Electoral College); how much funding to allocate in both federal and state dollars to communities for transportation infrastructure projects, public health programs, education and neighborhood improvements such as housing and public safety, and other initiatives.
The Bureau is required by law to report the apportionment count to Congress no later than December 31st. The original deadline for data collection, including self-response and in-person follow-up, was July 31st. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bureau established an October 5th deadline.
There have been several legal challenges to the 2020 census. First, President Trump wanted to add a citizenship question; then, he sought to omit undocumented immigrants; and finally, he tried to shorten the response time. The courts rebuffed each of these efforts. A California U.S. circuit court judge questioned the timing of the deadline and suggested the December 31st reporting date could be changed. A hearing is scheduled for Friday, with a decision shortly thereafter.
Florida’s response rate is 97.2 percent as of September 29th, according to the Bureau. Of this, 63.3 percent are self-responses and the balance is follow-up responses. West Virginia tops the states with a 99.9 percent total rate, while Alabama, at 93.7 percent is at the low end. Florida ranks as the 41st state. Should this trend continue, a recent report by statisticians indicates that Florida will lose a congressional seat while Ohio would pick up one.
We hope you completed your census form earlier this year. It is important to be counted so that Florida receives federal funding for vital projects in our communities.