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Idea of changing Census deadline should be discarded

Giving Americans a month less to respond to the 2020 Census is among the more ridiculous proposals to come out of Washington this year. The idea should be discarded.

Original plans for the Census called for an Oct. 31 deadline for people to respond with information about themselves and their families. But Census Bureau officials reportedly want to change that to Sept. 30.

During this, of all years, people ought to be given more time to comply with government mandates, not less. There is no doubt that the COVID-19 epidemic has slowed collection of Census data. Moving the deadline would result in an even more incomplete report than in normal Census years.

That would be highly detrimental to states and regions where the percentage of people who have responded to the Census is far lower than the national average.

Statistics gathered in the Census are used for a variety of purposes, including determination of how many state and federal legislators states and regions within them are allocated.

In addition, many federal funding programs rely on Census numbers. Fewer people counted means less money from Washington.

Looking at Pennsylvania, 66.2 percent of the population had been counted as of Monday — slightly above the national average of 63.2 percent. Lycoming County is at 65 percent.

Within the state, the percentage varies from county to county with some higher numbers in the larger population centers. Consider the counties of Bucks, 75.4 percent; Lancaster, 70 percent; Erie, 70.6 percent.

Meanwhile, Forest County in northwestern Pennsylvania has experienced only a 26.1 percent response rate, and nearby Sullivan County is at 30.9 percent. Clinton and Tioga are both behind the average at 58.9 and 53.9 percent respectively.

Clearly, there’s much work to be done yet, and it must be done as a matter of fairness. Half to two-thirds of the population count skews our representation and funding for important programs in favor of the areas where the results are more complete.

It lessens our voice in government.

Cutting off responses a month early would be unfair to all Americans. The idea should be rejected.

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