US Census Focuses on Online Submission amid the Coronavirus Threats

With the increasing threat of coronavirus outbreak in the US, the Census Bureau has introduced a new move to complete the gigantic task of the 2020 once-a-decade population count of Americans without the need for visiting the government offices.

To avoid the fear around the possibility of transmission of the widespread virus, the US government announced that Americans could submit their census forms, to be sent through emails as early as Thursday, using online.

Online Submission

The 2020 survey, which is estimated to cost taxpayers’ money nearly $15 billion, would be conducted mostly through using online submission. Considering the present situation of the virus outbreak, the Census Bureau on Wednesday, March 11, 2020, appealed citizens to use online submission through the government’s web portal at my2020census.gov. The census authority said that it would send its census workers, census door-knockers to those households that failed to respond to the letters.

Referring to the door-knocking method, Jeffrey Wice, a census expert, and Democratic redistricting adviser raised doubt that the people would be discouraged from answering the door. Wice added, the wide-scale virus impact made it difficult to spread public awareness to the citizens about the population count.

Similarly, Terri Ann Lowenthal, a consultant and former congressional staffer overseeing census matters, claimed, “The Census Bureau will have difficulty grabbing people’s attention… as I think the environment for promoting census participation becomes much more difficult.”

Considering the importance of how census data in determining the political and economic decisions of the country, the Bureau claimed that their workers were consistently working to get accurate data of the heads count. The Bureau in a statement said, “If we need to delay or discontinue nonresponse follow-up visits in a particular community, we will adapt our operation to ensure we get a complete and accurate count.”

Other Key Challenges

The census authority was attacked by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office last month claiming that it delayed the new recruitment of census workers and Reuters also reported last year about the bureau’s poor IT infrastructure and equipment which were vulnerable to glitches. Earlier, the bureau had defended from both allegations and responded that it had enough support of the workers for the survey as well as its IT system was working fine.

According to data experts and civil rights advocates who monitor census discussions online, apart from this, there emerged a sense of fear among some ethnic communities about the government’s efforts of spreading misinformation about the count.

Last week, Facebook Inc. had removed ads published by the Trump Administration that sought users to fill out a separate survey called, “Official 2020 Congressional District Census” which was considered to be part of Trump’s plan for mass deportation of the immigrants. According to an Urban Institute study released in February, a quarter of non-whites under the age of 65 in the US have reported they would not respond to the census.

With the rise of citizenship issues of the Trump administration, the survey was considered to be a threat to some communities especially Hispanic and immigrant groups as the census data could be used against them. Following the apprehension of such a threat, the citizenship question was invalidated by the US Supreme Court last year.

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