Home Census Will US Census Overcount in Delaware Affect Federal Funding?

Will US Census Overcount in Delaware Affect Federal Funding?

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Delaware doesn’t have as many people as we thought, and that might affect the amount of federal money the state gets, but it won’t change the electoral redistricting.

According to the 2020 U.S. Census, the population of the first state was 989,948 compared to 897,934 in 2010.

But the Census Bureau announced in May that Delaware was one of eight “overcounted” states in 2020, while six states were “undercounted,” according to the post-census survey.

“Releasing these…estimates helps us understand how well we’ve done this decade, state by state, in our efforts to count everyone living in the United States,” the Census Bureau director said. Robert L. Santos. “Transparency is an essential aspect of scientific integrity. This is why we communicate these results to the public.

The survey included interviews with 114,000 Delaware households, examining how each household’s response compared to the actual count from the 2020 census.

Santos said 36 states and the District of Columbia had no statistically significant undercount or overcount because the difference between survey interviews and actual census responses was less than 1%.

However, 14 states, including Delaware, have done so.

For Delaware, the overcount means that the actual number of people on April 1, 2020 is estimated at 935,996 instead of 989,948, or about 53,952 fewer people.

Santos said the follow-up surveys cannot be used to alter the 2020 census tally, but are useful for evaluating the current census, determining how best to estimate population by 2030 and helping improve future ones. censuses.

What’s upset the numbers in some states?

During the initial 2020 census, some households may have sent results that included people who should not have been counted, such as someone born after April 1, 2020 or someone who has just visited the country.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also posed challenges, both in finding enough census workers to collect data door-to-door and in the reluctance of residents to open the door to someone they did not recognize.

“Every decade there is room for improvement, and this one – especially with the unprecedented challenges we have faced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic – is no exception,” Santos said. .

Another possible difference was a change in technology, said Ed Ratledge, director of the Center for Applied Demography and Survey Research at the University of Delaware.

For the first time, residents could respond to the online census nationwide, and not just in a limited pilot like in 2010, Ratledge said.

However, census questionnaires were also mailed to residents as usual.

Ratledge said it’s possible some households completed both the paper survey and the online survey, resulting in duplicate counts. Perhaps a family member saw the census form in the mail and sent it in, unaware that another family member answered an online questionnaire.

Follow-up surveys are done to try to eliminate duplicate counts and to see if historically under-reported areas have been counted accurately.

Still, Ratledge was surprised at how far the count was in Delaware.

“Five percent was a big number, but that’s why they’re doing more surveys so they can correct the census,” he said. “I don’t expect the final numbers to be out until April 2023.”

Why are numbers important?

Two main programs are determined by the census: redistricting and federal funding to the states.

Ratledge said the redistricting for the election has already been done using the April 2020 numbers, and that won’t change for the next 10 years.

But for federal program funding changes based on population, final numbers for each state must wait until all the data is available.

“Funding is based on combined estimates after reviewing post-census survey, demographics and other data,” Ratledge said. “They won’t just go through the 2020 census. They’re looking at census data, demographics, births, deaths, and migrations. »

The goal of the census is for every state, county, city and town to get its fair share for schools, hospitals, roads and public works projects. These funds are population-based and disaggregated by gender, age, race and other factors.

“The findings also indicate how federal funding is allocated to more than 100 programs, including Medicaid, Head Start, block grant programs for community mental health services, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program known as SNAP. “, according to the Census Bureau website.

The Census Bureau works with state employees responsible for estimating annual population in states, counties, cities, and towns under the Federal-State Cooperative Program for Local Population Estimates (FSCPE).

The Census Bureau and CSPF members combine census information and administrative records to produce current population estimates consistent with the latest censuses for the past 10 years. Census estimates are sent to FSCPE agencies for review and comment.

Santos said the 2020 Census Quality Assessment provides a foundation for the Census Bureau’s work to improve the next census — instead of modifying the 2020 census count.

Together, the post-enumeration survey, demographic analysis and quality indicators of the 2020 census provide an overview of the quality of the population census over 10 years.

Redistricting for regional elections

In a special legislative session last fall after the release of the 2020 census figures, the General Assembly approved the final maps of the House and Senate districts on November 1, 2021. Governor John Carney signed them into law the day after.

These maps, which are revised and adjusted every 10 years, are now in effect for the 2022 Delaware legislative elections and are available online at https://legis.delaware.gov/Redistricting

All states must comply with constitutional population requirements while preventing discrimination by diluting minority communities with the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which prohibits redistricting plans from discriminating on the basis of race by diluting the votes of certain minority groups.

Delaware’s population based on the 2020 census is 989,940, so to have nearly equal population districts, each of the 21 Senate districts had to be as close as possible to 47,140 people, and each of the 41 House districts as close to 24,145 as possible. possible.

In an effort to keep communities and neighborhoods intact, some deviation from these numbers is allowed, according to the Delaware General Assembly website, but the goal is to be within 5%, above or below.

Other redistricting objectives include compactness of district boundaries, adjacency of districts, preservation of counties and other political subdivisions, and preservation of communities.

This is the first census in which Delaware has counted prisoners at the last address recorded before their incarceration, rather than at the prison. After working with the Department of Corrections, the Department of Elections provided the legislature with data on the last known addresses of each person incarcerated in a public facility.

Since Delaware has only one U.S. Representative, there is only one U.S. House district, so there is no effect on redistricting at the federal level.

Delaware takes on Montana for another U.S. rep

An additional U.S. representative in Congress could be in play if Delaware’s population grows relative to other states.

Delaware has a U.S. Representative, like other states with small populations, but as the state grows, Delaware may get a second representative like Montana did after 2020 census figures .

The census determines the distribution, the process of distributing the 435 seats of the United States House of Representatives among the 50 states. These results determine the number of seats each state will have in the United States House of Representatives over the next 10 years.

According to the US Census Bureau based on 2020 population figures, seven House seats will move between 13 states. One state, Texas, will gain two seats, and five states will gain one seat: Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Oregon and Montana, which drops from one representative to two, recovering the second lost seat after the 1990 census.

Seven states will lose a seat: California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Of all the states with a U.S. Representative, Delaware now has the highest population of 989,948 according to the April 1, 2020 census.

Montana, which is just ahead of Delaware, had a population of 1,084,225 as of April 1, 2020, up from 989,415 as of April 1, 2010.

Delaware will have the largest average US House district size at 989,948, while Montana will have the smallest average district size at 542,112.5.

So while Montana’s population is only 9.52% larger than Delaware’s, Montana gets 100% more representation in the U.S. House and four electoral votes in presidential elections instead of three. .

The Congressional District’s average population size will be 761,169 using the 2020 census.

Contact reporter Ben Mace at [email protected]