The extension means there will be more time to get accurate data, but it also leaves less time to get that data totaled.
“That extends the door knocking,” said Victoria Kovari, from the city of Detroit census. “It extends the website response, the phone lines, etc.”
In April, the Census Bureau announced operations would be extended until the end of October because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
In August, the federal government shortened the time to September.
The overnight decision by a judge to extend the deadline once again was because a shortened schedule would likely produce inaccurate results and affect the distribution of federal funding and political representation.
“The message is really important that people open their doors to the census workers and provide them with information,” Kovari said.
Kovari said Detroit has had a lower number of households filling out the census in lower-income neighborhoods. The extra time to go door-to-door is appreciated, but workers have been operating as if their deadline was next week.
She said she hopes the deadline to turn in the population count will also be extended.
“This puts the Census Bureau in a big bind, basically because they haven’t changed the Dec. 31 deadline for delivering the count, so extending it to Oct. 31 really puts them under the gun,” Kovari said. “Congress could still act to extend the time the Census Bureau has to deliver the population count beyond Dec. 31. They still have time to act on that, but so far they have not.”
Cooperating with the census is critical in getting federal funding that goes to neighborhoods, hospitals, schools and more. Census workers are required by law to collect the information.