With more than $1 billion on the line, Michigan is gearing up for a final push to get everyone counted in the 2020 Census.
MICHIGAN—A dam failure in mid-Michigan over the summer forced more than 10,000 people to flee their homes and left disaster in its wake. That happened during a once-in-a-century global health crisis that impacted Michigan, and especially Detroit, hard.
In both these cases, the Federal Emergency Management Agency was called upon to provide support. And the money that FEMA had to work with to give Michiganders aid in situations like the flood or virus is based on how many people are affected, as counted by the Census.
The Census also determines countless other features of how the government interacts with Michigan, including the number of votes a state has in the presidential election and the number of seats representing the state in Congress.
Women from traditionally undercounted groups have been pushing their communities to close that Census gap in however many days remain, reports Michigan Radio. Their efforts have included trying to make the Census a competition, reaching out to loved ones directly and challenging one another to get more Census participation.
The 150,000 uncounted households represent more than $1 billion left on the table, based on estimates of how much federal investment is brought by each counted person.
“With more than $30 billion in funding for critical local health programs and services including police and fire, roads, literacy programs for students and nutrition programs for seniors on the line, it’s never been more important for Michigan to have a complete and accurate census count,” Michigan’s Census director Kerry Ebersole Singh told Michigan Advance.
But those same disasters that the Census is crucial to helping address have made it nearly impossible to conduct a normal, thorough count. The pandemic has cancelled in-person events, made it harder and more expensive to send Census counters out to count hard-to-find people, and exacerbated confusion created by President Donald Trump who has disrupted the count by shortening its timeline, attempting to include questions that would reduce turnout, and fostered an increased distrust in government.
Trump also installed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy whose attempts to cut costs at the postal service have created massive postal delays, rendering traditional Census mailers unreliable.
Taken together, this has given Michigan’s local officials worries about the accuracy of the Census. The Michigan Public Policy Survey asked more than 1,300 county, city and township officials across the state about their faith in the election, and only about 70 of them were confident in the count’s accuracy in 2020.
Michigan has done fairly well with its count, The ‘Gander reported, but undercounts remain likely. In the final month of the 2020 count, the Census is making another push for Michiganders to fill out the census form online.
The Census has put out a series of public service announcements in what was to be the final week of it’s count to try and get the 150,000 Michigan households who have yet to respond to fill out the Census. But the Census got an 11th-hour extension of it’s deadline to the end of October by US District Court Judge Lucy Koh.
That extension could still be appealed by the Trump administration, however, which would throw the already beleaguered count into even more confusion and chaos, making it unclear if those Michiganders counted in October will be reflected in the overall data. Filling out the Census before Oct. 1 remains the best way to ensure you’re counted.