Peters Cosponsors Bill to Ensure Accurate Census Count and Address Coronavirus Disruptions

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI), Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, cosponsored legislation that would extend required deadlines for delivering census data and implement important transparency and accountability requirements to help ensure a full and accurate count in the 2020 Census. In April, the U.S. Census Bureau announced that it would delay all field operations by three months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, raising questions about the Bureau’s ability to deliver apportionment and redistricting data in a timely manner. The Fair and Accurate Census Act would extend the Bureau’s deadlines for delivering that information, while prioritizing data for states like Michigan that rely on independent commissions for legislative apportionment and redistricting.  

“The Coronavirus pandemic has dramatically impacted nearly every aspect of American life – including delaying some 2020 Census operations,” said Senator Peters. “Communities in Michigan and across the country rely on an accurate census to determine everything from Congressional representation to federal funding for schools, infrastructure projects and health care. The stakes for these communities are simply too high for this process to be rushed. This commonsense legislation will provide the Bureau with more time and resources to get a complete and accurate count despite any delays the pandemic may have caused.”

The changes to census operations due to the Coronavirus pandemic could threaten the Bureau’s ability to deliver a full and accurate count, especially as it relates to Michigan’s 800,000 “hard to count” residents, including African Americans and other minority communities, rural residents, students, children, low-income households, and people experiencing homelessness. The Census Bureau must redesign its outreach and communications to ensure these residents are counted, hire sufficient census takers, collect accurate data, and efficiently tabulate the data for use in states’ democratic processes.

The Fair and Accurate Census Act extends the deadlines for the Census Bureau to submit apportionment data – the data used to determine how many U.S. Representatives each state is allotted – and the deadline for transmitting redistricting data to states by four months, to provide necessary time for remaining census operations. The legislation also allows colleges and universities to work with the Bureau to accurately count students in light of the pandemic’s effect on schools, ensures the Bureau has sufficient resources to address the impact of the Coronavirus, and implements accountability measures to keep the Bureau on track for an accurate and cost-effective 2020 Census.