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Hard To Count Census Populations Extend Beyond Immigrants

The Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s ruling in the final days of June that keeps the citizenship question off of the 2020 Census. While Census Bureau research shows that a citizenship question could significantly reduce response rates, it’s only one of many groups that are at risk of being undercounted.

The CNY Digital Inclusion Coalition discussed ways to expand their reach as the 2020 Census approaches

Liz Burakowski is the Deputy Director of New York’s Complete Count Commission. She says the group has been working on the 2020 Census for about two years now, and she says they’re facing a number of challenges, such as a growing general distrust of government and inequal access to internet.

The data collected from the census determines a number of things, from how many seats a state gets in the U.S. House of Representatives to how federal funds get distributed to where businesses and roads get developed.


Many communities are at risk of being undercounted, which would result in bad data that informs decesions on every level. Immigrants have been highlighted in the lead up to the 2020 Census due to the Trump administration's failed efforts to include a question about citizenship on the survey. But rural folks, African Americans, and people who rent are also historically undercounted. In 2010, Onondaga County had a non-response rate of 20%.



Chris Iven is a census partnership specialist with the regional office. His job is to try and make connections with trusted community members in those many hard to count populations to make sure they’re accurately represented in the census data. He hopes connections with these people from individual communities makes the difference in getting the most accurate census possible in 2020.


Katie Zilcosky is WAER’s All Things Considered host and features reporter. She also co-hosts WAER’s public affairs show Syracuse Speaks. As a reporter, she focuses on technology, economy, and identity.