This photo shows an envelope containing a 2020 census letter mailed to a U.S. resident in Detroit. The Supreme Court’s decision to allow the Trump administration to end the 2020 census was another case of whiplash for the census, which has faced stops from the pandemic, natural disasters and court rulings. (AP Photo / Paul Sancya, File)

This photo shows an envelope containing a 2020 census letter mailed to a U.S. resident in Detroit. The Supreme Court’s decision to allow the Trump administration to end the 2020 census was another case of whiplash for the census, which has faced stops from the pandemic, natural disasters and court rulings. (AP Photo / Paul Sancya, File)

Elected officials urge census response ahead of deadline

Alaskans have until 11:59 p.m. Oct. 15.

By Ben Hohenstatt and the Associated Press

Elected officials urged Alaskans who have not yet done so to respond to the 2020 census before 11:59 p.m. Thursday.

In a social media post shared Wednesday, Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy reminded people of the impending deadline, and in a statement Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said she hopes Alaskans take the time to fill out the online questionnaire.

The deadline to complete the 2020 Census is tomorrow, October 15th. It’s crucial Alaskans respond to the Census in order…

Posted by Governor Mike Dunleavy on Wednesday, October 14, 2020

“It’s crucial Alaskans respond to the Census in order for our state to get proper funding for public safety, infrastructure and education,” Dunleavy said in the post.

The deadline reminders and extra urgency follow a series of extensions, reversals and ultimately a Supreme Court ruling that imposed the new deadline. Tuesday was the fifth time in two months that census workers were given a new end date — this one Thursday — for the head count of everyone living in the U.S. Prior to the ruling, the count was expected to run through the end of the month.

“The Census data collection deadline has continued to play out like a yo-yo,” Murkowski said. “I’m disappointed to see the Supreme Court order that the 2020 Census count can be cut short while appeals move forward. Ending data collection prematurely will undermine efforts for an accurate count of our nation and especially historically undercounted communities. While I continue to push to advance my bipartisan legislation with Senator Schatz, the 2020 Census Deadline Extensions Act, to ensure the Census Bureau has the time needed to finish the counting operations and data processing, I strongly encourage every Alaskan who hasn’t participated in the Census questionnaire to do so in the next day.”

[Researcher hopes map project can aid pandemic response]

The cause for the truncated count, the Trump administration has argued, is to allow the Census Bureau time to meet a congressionally mandated Dec. 31 deadline for completing figures used to apportion seats in the House of Representatives.

The nation’s highest court didn’t offer a reason for ending the census, though Justice Sonia Sotomayor said in a dissent that minorities and others “will disproportionately bear the burden of any inaccuracies.”

How it will impact Alaska remains to be seen.

The Census Bureau claims more than 99% of Alaska households have been counted, as reported by KTOO. However, the accuracy of that figure and how well it corresponds to the state’s actual population has been questioned.

In 2010, the most-recent decennial census, Alaska had a participation rate of 64% compared to a national participation rate of 72%, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

Under-response to the census is something that over the course of the 10 years in between censuses can cost the state billions since it helps the federal government determine how to distribute $1.5 trillion in federal funds to states and municipalities.

“What takes just a few minutes to complete has impacts to our state that last for the next 10 years as it determines how much federal funding our local communities will receive for public services like schools and roads,” Murkowski said. “This is too important to not get right.”

• Contact Ben Hohenstatt at (907)308-4895 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt

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