|RICHMOND (April 1, 2020) – On “Census Day” Attorney General Mark R. Herring is encouraging all Virginians to complete their 2020 decennial census questionnaires to make sure that there is an accurate count of Virginia’s population. Hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funds are directly tied to demographic information obtained through the census, including the Highway Trust Fund and other Department of Transportation grants, Child Care Development Grants, and Medicaid. Consequently, inaccurate counts can potentially deprive Virginia of much-needed funds designed to protect low-income and vulnerable communities.
“On this Census Day, most, if not all, households in Virginia should have received a census questionnaire – please make sure to fill it out and send it back to the Census Bureau. While I know most of us are focused on the coronavirus, it is so incredibly important that we all still participate in the census,” said Attorney General Herring. “The census isn’t just a project that the government does every ten years to figure out how many people live in the country. It ensures that Virginia has fair representation both at the state and the federal level and it determines funding for critical things like healthcare, transportation and childcare.
“I successfully fought in court to protect the integrity of the census and block the Trump Administration’s citizenship question from being included on this year’s census. Now all Virginians must do their part and fill out their questionnaire to make sure that everyone living in the Commonwealth is properly counted. An undercount could cost Virginia millions of dollars in federal funding.”
While the census counts Virginians at their permanent residence, people without a permanent residence are counted at the place where they are living on April 1st, which is why that day is known as “Census Day.” The 2020 census is already well underway but, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, response rates have been slower and the U.S. Census Bureau has adjusted the original timeline in response to that. To make things as easy as possible, you can respond to the census online, over the phone or through the mail.
Attorney General Herring successfully protected the integrity of the 2020 census after he sued to block the Trump Administration’s addition of a “poison pill” citizenship question, that the Census Bureau said would likely depress response and compromise the accuracy of the census. Attorney General Herring’s lawsuit emphasized the irreparable harm that would result from inaccuracies in the 2020 Census.
Additionally, the coalition filed official comments in August 2018 urging the Census Bureau to reconsider its decision to include an unnecessary citizenship question that would impair the Bureau’s essential function of counting all people in the 2020 census. The comments explained that demanding citizenship information on the census would depress response rates in cities and states with large immigrant populations, directly threatening those states’ fair representation in Congress and the Electoral College, as well as billions of dollars in critical federal funds.
A total of $700 billion is distributed annually to nearly 300 different census-guided federal grant and funding programs. In FY2015, Virginia received over $953 million in Highway Trust Fund grants, over $131 million in Urbanized Area Formula Grants, and nearly $64 million in Child Care Development grants, all based on census data.