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Pasadena Response Rate High As Census Draws to a Close

Supreme Court allows Trump to end count early

Published on Wednesday, October 14, 2020 | 4:53 pm

Thursday, Oct. 15, is the last day to fill out a census form.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that the Trump administration could end counting for the 2020 Census early, suspending a lower court order that extended the count’s schedule.

Locally, the city’s self-count response rate finished at 70.7 percent, according to City Clerk Mark Jomsky.

Census workers were able to successfully follow up with 99.8 percent of the remaining households that did not complete the survey by self-response, according to the census website.

The successful follow-up by census workers on the ground could put the city’s final overall response rate above 90 percent.

“Between the self-response and the non-response follow-up, it looks like they did a pretty good job in Pasadena,” said Jomsky.

The city held several events over the past several months as part of a campaign to convince local residents to take part in the census.

Part of that campaign was aimed at convincing hard-to-count households that it was safe to take the census. The Trump administration fought to place a question on the survey about citizenship.

Mayor Terry Tornek said he thought the city did very well.

“We expected that it was going to end at the end of September,” Tornek said. “And so the October extension that we got from the court was sort of a bonus. We’ve been working very intensively for a lot of months. We were trying to use every minute available to us.”

There were some worrisome moments along the way.

Just two months ago, the self-response rate was at 65 percent. Although that number was above the county’s self-response rate, it still worried local officials that a devastating undercount could occur.

Population counts from the 2020 census will not only be used to determine how many congressional seats and Electoral College votes each state gets for the next decade, but also will be used to decide the distribution of nearly $900 billion in federal funding for such things as schools, road construction and repair, and many other public services and projects.

“This is a tough time to seek information from people,” said Councilman Victor Gordo, who is challenging Tornek for the mayor’s seat in the Nov. 3 election. “But it is an important goal to ensure that everyone is counted for economic reasons, for population reasons, for representation and political reasons. The census very much is part of our democratic process. “It determines how many representatives we have in our community.”

Local activists and city leaders began expressing concerns last year after the Trump administration announced plans to include the question, “Is this person a citizen of the United States?”

Some believe that even if the question was not used to deport immigrants, the fear of potential exposure caused by the question would have a devastating impact by causing a sizable undercount.

That, in turn, could have reduced federal allocations by billions of dollars for countless programs around the country, cost states in the number of seats they can hold in the House of Representatives, and determine how many Electoral College votes each state gets.

Locally, the census is used to sometimes redraw local City Council and Pasadena Unified School District boundaries to guarantee the city is complying with federal voting rights laws.

In the early 1990s, local district lines were redrawn to create a district which increased voting opportunities for primarily Latino residents living in an enclave which later became District 5, the area Gordo currently represents, after the 1990 Census revealed the area was 27 percent Latino.

The Supreme Court eventually shot down Trump’s efforts to include the question on the census.

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