Assemblyman John McKeon (D-West Orange) urged the state’s congressional delegation to push to delay the Census deadline after the Census Bureau announced it would complete its count one month earlier than scheduled.
“I respectfully request that you exercise your considerable influence to delay the December 31, 2020 deadline requiring the Census Bureau to present the completed census results to the President of the United States,” he wrote in a letter to the lawmakers Thursday.
Earlier this week, the Census Bureau announced it was boosting staffing levels but added that it would stop counting U.S. residents on Sept. 30, a month earlier than previously expected.
New Jersey’s census response rate of 65% holds a slight lead over the national average, 63.1%, but residents in some of the state’s counties — especially urban counties like Hudson and Essex — trail significantly behind their 2010 counts.
“For New Jersey communities and communities across the country this is of incredible consequence. Those historically undercounted – people of color, immigrants, families in rural communities, children – would yet again go uncounted for another decade,” McKeon said Friday. “As a State, we then stand to lose billions of dollars in critical funding for our schools, our roads, hospitals and other vital infrastructure.”
McKeon is the sponsor of a constitutional amendment that would delay legislative redistricting until 2022 if the state does not receive Census data by Feb. 15 of next year.
The measure won the three-fifths majorities needed to land on the ballot last week, though it’ll still need voter approval before being enacted.
“In the midst of a pandemic that continues to take lives and devastate people’s livelihoods, we need more time and we need more latitude,” McKeon said. “Getting a complete and accurate count, and being able to do it safely, is now more crucial than ever.”