NPR

Census Could Look 'Manipulated' If Cut Short By Trump Officials, Bureau Warned

Curtailing the time for conducting the census in the middle of a pandemic will lead to "fatal data quality flaws that are unacceptable," Census Bureau career officials warned in an internal document.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who oversees the Census Bureau, waits for a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing to begin in Washington, D.C., in 2019. In July, Ross directed bureau officials to speed up the 2020 census to end counting a month early, on Sept. 30. Source: Andrew Harrer

Weeks before the Trump administration announced it was cutting the 2020 census schedule short, career officials at the Census Bureau attempted to send signal flares about how that last-minute decision would lead to "fatal" data problems with the national head count and the perception of "politically-manipulated results."

Internal emails and memos, which were released this weekend as part of a federal lawsuit in California, show career officials trying to hold the integrity of the once-a-decade count together in the last weeks of July amid mounting pressure from the administration to abandon the extended timeline it had previously approved in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Shortening that, "will result in a census that has fatal data quality flaws that are unacceptable for a Constitutionally-mandated national activity."

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