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Letter: Adding question to census jeopardizes its accuracy

Adding question to census jeopardizes its accuracy

The League of Women Voters strongly opposes including a question about citizenship in the 2020 census. This unprecedented change to the way we count the number of people living in the United States is a betrayal of the idea that in America, every person counts.

Make no mistake: This decision isn’t about improving demographic data on citizenship. It’s designed to frighten immigrants – citizens and noncitizens alike – so they won’t participate in the census. It’s a political maneuver meant to disenfranchise these groups and deny them equal representation. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross’ claim that this question helps enforce the Voting Rights Act is preposterous. Indeed, including this question on the census undermines the rights of eligible voters and threatens a process vital to our democracy.

For more than 200 years, the census has collected information about the geographic distribution of our population so we can provide representation and invest in our communities equitably. A fair and accurate census is essential to the way the federal government allocates financial resources for infrastructure, education and transportation. Without a complete count of our nation’s people, businesses will not have the tools to make sound investment decisions and communities will be denied the financial resources that help them to thrive.

Adding this question to the census now, at this late hour, not only jeopardizes the accuracy of the count, but it comes at a huge financial expense. Taxpayers should not be held responsible for the time and cost of changing the census forms and making the report less accurate.

The U.S. Constitution mandates an accurate count of all people living in the United States – not all citizens. Everyone needs to be included in the census to paint a complete picture of our country. The clock is ticking toward 2020. We call on Congress to take action and correct this issue before it is too late.

Janet Massaro

League of Women Voters

of Buffalo/Niagara

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