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The GOP is sabotaging this sacred mandate

Catherine Rampell on

In unrelated survey testing last year, respondents fretted about what would happen to information they gave to the Census Bureau. Unprompted, some mentioned the "Muslim ban," "discomfort 'registering' other household members" and fears that immigration authorities would come after them. Some falsified names and dates of birth.

Those survey respondents were paid, too, suggesting they'd be more likely to cooperate than would the general population.

"The politics have changed everything. Recently," one field representative explained, according to a Census Bureau memo.

In a statement, the bureau said it was still "evaluating" the Justice Department request. Even if the Census Bureau ultimately leaves this question off the form, though, the reputational damage may already be done. Significant undercounts could distort how dollars and congressional seats are divvied up. Likely (and perhaps not coincidentally) to the advantage of Republicans and their constituencies.

The Constitution requires the decennial census to count all people, not just all citizens. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, whose department oversees the census, seems to truly want to produce a full, accurate, nonpartisan count, not least because the business sector wants one.

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But in an era of data trutherism and political tribalism, Republican lawmakers and the rest of the administration appear to have other priorities.

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Catherine Rampell's email address is crampell@washpost.com. Follow her on Twitter, @crampell.

(c) 2018, Washington Post Writers Group

 

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