With 70% response rate, California officials urge people to fill out census now

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Officials from Gov. Gavin Newsom to the Los Angeles Fire Department urged people to fill out the census now, with only 70% of Californians responding thus far.

Authorities made the plea after the Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed the Trump administration to end the once-a -decade count of every single person in the U.S., which is used to determine federal funding and the number of congressional representatives a state gets. A lower court previously extended the count through the end of October following pandemic-related delays.

“Communities across L.A. are in danger of not receiving funding they deserve for economic development programs and jobs, healthcare, transportation and more,” the L.A. Fire Department said in a tweet. “That’s why an accurate count is so important.”

The California Department of Public Health, state Attorney General Xavier Becerra joined the governor’s office and local city officials in asking Californians to fill out the census, which can be done online at my2020census.gov.

The U.S. Census Bureau set a deadline of 11:59 pm Hawaii Standard Time. So it’s going to be 2:59 a.m. Pacific time on Friday in California, the state’s Complete Count Office confirmed.

People can also complete the census by calling 844-330-2020 for English or 844-468-2020 for Spanish between 4 a.m. and 11 p.m. Pacific time on Thursday.

While the U.S. Census Bureau has reported accounting for 99.9% of housing units, California’s state officials say that number includes data taken indirectly, such as information from neighbors. The self-response rate, like California’s 69.4% or 10.5 million people, is more accurate, said Diana Crofts-Pelayo, assistant deputy director for California Complete Count.

The state reported the following self-response rates as of Tuesday:

In L.A. County, census takers have been particularly challenged with crowded and multi-unit housing, as well as those who did not graduate high school. In San Bernardino County, census officials cited challenges counting people who have been unemployed, those receiving public assistance and individuals who live 150% below the poverty line.

California Complete Count Director Ditas Katague said the Supreme Court’s decision “could have grave consequences for the next decade.”

“California will continue to stand up for the integrity of the Census and support the ongoing litigation to ensure that all Californians count in the apportionment process,” Katague said.

Correction: A previous version of this story provided an incorrect time. This post has been updated.

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