How Cities Plan to Save the Census

The 2020 census is shaping up to be a mess of historic proportions. “It’s like a perfect storm of challenges,” says Kiki Jamieson, president of the Fund for New Jersey, which is working to get a complete count in that state.

In addition to the potential addition of a citizenship question by the Trump administration — the legality of which the Supreme Court took up this week and which critics say will depress responses from immigrants and other vulnerable groups by more than 6 million people — it is the first digital census. That means the Census Bureau hopes the 35 percent of Americans without a reliable home Internet connection — themselves in typically hard-to-count areas — will take it upon themselves to find a library or other hotspot in order to log on and be counted. And the 2020 census has had little new federal money to work with, relative to past efforts, leading to cuts in human footpower, marketing, and testing of new systems.

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