As a national legal battle over the 2020 census continues, the deadline for the once-in-a-decade count changed again this week — another abrupt twistfor local officials trying to make sure Marylanders are counted.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced Monday that the census will end Oct. 5. The announcement came days after a federal judge in California blocked the Trump administration from ending the count Sept. 30. Civil rights groups have been pushing for a longer timeline, saying the nation is at risk of inaccurate data and a massive undercount of communities of color.
Census data is used to determine billions in federal funding and each state’s allotment of U.S. Representatives.
"Frankly it’s getting a little absurd at this point.”
Harry Freeman, who leads the Anne Arundel County Complete Count Committee
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In an email Monday night to local heads of the Complete Count Committees — volunteer committees helping to coordinate the state’s census efforts — the Maryland Department of Planning said there are still questions, including whether the timeline could change again.
“We had hoped to be able to answer these questions for you today but too many moving parts still remain outstanding,” wrote Kristin Fleckenstein, the planning department’s public affairs director, in the email.
She added that the department “will continue doing what we can to ensure that we reach as many people as possible.”
A meeting with the state’s Complete Count Committee and local chairs is scheduled for Thursday.
According to census data, 99% of Maryland’s population has been counted, but there’s not a clear picture of how that breaks down at the local level — and participation in the census has varied significantly by county.
The U.S. Census Bureau has released self-response rates by county, but not data on how many people have been counted by a census taker visiting their homes.
Overall, six counties and Baltimore have lower self-response rates than they did in 2010, including Baltimore County.
“There’s so much at stake here and I think that’s what we’ve really been leaning into,” said Smith, a Democrat. "Now more than ever, people don’t need abstract reasons, they need the most clear reasons.”