Few processes are as important to our representative democracy as the decennial Census count. The U.S. Constitution requires an actual count of all persons in the United States based on where they live and sleep most of the time. The U.S. Census Bureau is responsible for collecting the demographic data that serves as the foundation for a number of government functions. It is used for: (1) the distribution of congressional seats to states, (2) redistricting, (3) planning for community services, and (4) the distribution of more than $400 billion in federal funds to local, state, and tribal governments each year. Accordingly, an accurate count is critical for fair representation and resource distribution.
Despite its critical importance, adequate funding for the 2020 Census is in danger. The President has requested, and Congress appears poised to pass, an appropriations bill that pegs the Census Bureau’s budget to that spent on the 2010 count, despite a growing population and costs associated with modernization. With a capped budget, the Census Bureau is likely to experience pitfalls similar to what occurred in past counts, particularly the under-counting of immigrant and communities of color. As a result of low reporting, these “hard to count” (HTC) communities are underrepresented in redistricting and resource apportionment.
Members of the S.O.L.V.E. Coalition have deep experience organizing and advocating around census and redistricting processes, and many are already making plans for 2020 and 2021. S.O.L.V.E. is committed to working with communities to ensure all individuals are counted and communities receive both fair representation and their fair share of resources. To ensure an accurate count and fair redistricting process, S.O.L.V.E. supports the adequate funding and staffing of the Census Bureau for administration of the 2020 Census.