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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Census Bureau closes Central Coast office despite order to extend to Oct. 31

Posted By on Wed, Sep 30, 2020 at 9:24 AM

Time is running out to complete the 2020 Census. How much time? That’s still up in the air.

As a national legal fight rages over how much longer the once-a-decade survey must remain open, on Sept. 25, the U.S. Census Bureau closed up shop at its Central Coast regional office in Ventura, SLO County Administrative Analyst Kristin Erikkson told New Times.

click to enlarge GET IT DONE The census remains open for self-responses as of Sept. 29—but time is running out. - IMAGE COURTESY OF THE U.S. CENSUS BUREAU
  • GET IT DONE The census remains open for self-responses as of Sept. 29—but time is running out.
That means few, if any, census workers will be canvassing neighborhoods for residents who haven’t completed the survey.

“We do not have numbers on how many independent census workers are still potentially going door to door,” Erikkson said.

The office closure hits as a federal judge ruled on Sept. 24 that census activities must resume through Oct. 31—a rebuff to the Trump administration, which had attempted to move the deadline up to Sept. 30. That decision is now under appeal. The census determines how many congressional seats each state gets and how federal funding is allocated.

As of Sept. 29, the census remained open for citizens to self-respond—via web, phone, or mail. But that option may end soon. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced on Monday that the census would aim to conclude by Oct. 5.

While the final deadline may be decided in court, Erikkson said that either way, it’s uncertain whether the Census Bureau can continue substantial outreach efforts on the Central Coast now that its office is closed.

“We don’t know how or whether they would be able to stand anything of substance up again. There’s no official statement on what they’re planning on doing,” Erikkson said. “Maybe there will be a few in-person numerators, but we’ll have to rely on the public to take it upon themselves to respond online or by the phone.”∆
—Peter Johnson

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