The U.S. Census Bureau announced late Monday that Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced that the 2020 Census will conclude on Oct. 5, giving people until then to self-respond to the census questionnaire and to respond door-knocking efforts by census takers reaching out to homes that haven’t responded yet.
“The Secretary of Commerce has announced a target date of October 5, 2020 to conclude 2020 Census self-response and field data collection operations,” read the announcement.
It comes after a federal judge ruled that the 2020 Census can continue through Oct. 31, which blocked the Trump administration’s Sept. 30 deadline.
Judge Lucy Koh, ruling in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, issued a preliminary injunction on Sept. 24 to suspend the Sept. 30 deadline for field operations, as well as suspend a Dec. 31 deadline the Census Bureau has for turning in figures used for determining how many congressional seats each state gets—a process known as apportionment.
The new Oct. 5 deadline doesn’t necessarily violate Koh’s order.
The census, which takes place once every decade, is used to determine how to distribute $1.5 trillion in federal spending annually, and how many congressional seats each state gets.
Before the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic, data collection for the census was scheduled to end on Aug. 15. But field operations faced challenges amid the pandemic, and the deadline was extended to Oct. 31.
In early August, the Census Bureau announced it would move that deadline up to Sept. 30, arguing that it would otherwise be unable to meet a Dec. 31 statutory deadline for submitting the collected data to Congress.
Koh said in her order (pdf) that a shortened schedule ordered by the Trump administration would have a negative impact on political representation and the distribution of federal funding.
She sided with civil rights groups and local governments that had sued the Census Bureau and the Department of Commerce. Attorneys for the plaintiffs argued that if the counting ends in September, it would miss some residents in minority and hard-to-count communities and produce inaccurate results.
The plaintiffs also argued that “an inaccurate apportionment would violate their constitutional rights to representation” and that the plaintiffs would incur additional costs to mitigate the undercount.
August Flentje, special counsel to the assistant Attorney General at the Justice Department, said that the latest Oct. 5 deadline “reflects the most current planning” and that the government can respond to further questions regarding the new plan in the coming days, reported CNN.
A virtual hearing was being held in San Jose, California, on Monday, as a follow-up to Koh’s preliminary injunction.
Tom Ozimek and The Associated Press contributed to this report.