The Census Bureau is facing questions over whether it will be able to obtain a count of the population in the 2020 census that is accurate, as the agency is considering a Justice Department request to add a question about citizenship to the census, The Hill reported Tuesday.
Information from the census is used to redraw House of Representatives districts and the number of seats in each state counts to determine each state's electoral votes. Experts have said that adding the question about citizenship could skew the accuracy of the count if people are scared to answer the question, The Hill noted.
"We know that 7 percent of the population are people who are foreign born, but not citizens, which is about 22 million undocumented and documented people," William Frey of the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution told the website.
"Who knows what the motive of DOJ is, but the impact is going to be an undercount in places where you have a lot of Latinos and foreign-born people living."
A study by Election Data Services said that changes in population could lead to California losing a House seat, and Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina, Oregon, Montana, Florida, and Texas could gain seats, The Hill reported.
Vincent Barabba, who was Census Bureau director during the administrations of Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter, criticized the citizenship question.
"The Constitution says it will be a census of the inhabitants of the states… it doesn't say it'll be a census of citizens," Barabba said in The Hill.
The Census Bureau is also facing a lack of funding and has no director, The Hill reported.
Census consultant Terri Ann Lowenthal said that getting an accurate count every 10 years is vital and told The Hill "there's no do-overs. It can't go back and do it again if something fails."
The Justice Department said the request for adding the citizenship question will help enforce protections against racial discrimination in voting, ProPublica reported.
"This is a recipe for sabotaging the census," said Arturo Vargas, a member of the National Advisory Committee of the Census, in the ProPublica report.
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