Census deadline extended, but Rhode Islanders urged to respond now

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — Thursday night a federal judge ruled against the Trump administration, extending the census deadline through the end of October. But some are still pushing for everyone to finish their forms in the next week.

“The Census Bureau can continue to count people up until October 31,” said John Marion, Executive Director of the nonpartisan pro-democracy group Common Cause Rhode Island. “But we’re not relying on that, because that will be appealed, and could be reversed very shortly.”

He says about two-thirds of households initially responded on their own, with the census bureau sending out a rare second mailing of questionnaires to households that haven’t responded yet.

“There are lots of Rhode Islanders that have a piece of mail on their kitchen counter right now that they can respond to,” Marion said. “The bureau wasn’t planning to do that, but did because of COVID and the need to wrap up operations quickly.”

Jordan Hevenor of the Complete Count Committee says it’s crucial.

“Responding to the census is of an urgent timeline,” she said. “If you have five minutes today, and you haven’t done it, just call and get yourself counted. Or go to one of the many public events that we’re having.”

Officials say among the hardest to count are young children and immigrant communities.

“Folks who have barriers and reasons why they’re not getting counted, and so

that undercount really is a disservice to our most marginalized communities,” Hevenor said.

A lot is at stake. Rhode Island could lose one of its two Congressional districts. And of RI’s $10 billion budget, 3.8 billion comes from federal funds. Many of those funds are tied to the census.

“Rhode Island, which has had chronic budget deficits for decades, is really at risk of having an even worse fiscal calamity, if there isn’t an accurate census,” Marion said.

It takes about five minutes to complete the census form either on paper, over the phone, or

online.

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