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We the People – Checking the Census

By Barbara Rimkunas

This "Historically Speaking" column was published in the Exeter News-Letter on Friday, July 3, 2020.

The deadline for the 2020 census has been extended thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. Considering a decennial census is a constitutional mandate, you would think this might be a problem. However, the census has been flexible with regards to deadlines for over two centuries. Occasionally, the date has been moved around, so extending the June 1st, 2020 deadline should not cause much trouble.

An accurate count of the population is necessary for effective governance. We apportion representatives in both the state and federal government based on these numbers and funding for schools, hospitals and housing are dependent on the results as well. But the census isn’t a simple process. As Ted Widmer recently wrote in the New Yorker, the census, “has always reflected the promise and prejudices of our country, and its story drives to the heart of the Constitution – i…

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