The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion The Trump administration supported a full and accurate census

Kiarra Allen, 18, left, fills out the U.S. Census with Diamond Miles, right, an outreach worker, on Sept. 26, 2020, in D.C. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

Regarding the June 3 editorial on the 2020 Census, “The sabotage backfired”:

The Trump administration supported a complete count of the nation’s population that included a citizenship question for potential use in apportioning of seats in the House of Representatives. The White House also sought a better estimate of the number of noncitizens using administrative data. The efforts were public but unsuccessful.

A Supreme Court majority found the citizenship question to be procedurally infirm. The Biden administration stopped the estimate of noncitizens. The 2020 Census enjoyed nationwide bipartisan support and assistance at federal, state and local levels.

There was no attempt to sabotage the census. A complete and accurate count was the mission. Understandably, decennial censuses always contain miscounts. Estimates of miscounts use imprecise survey data. The Census Bureau recently compared survey data with 2020 Census numbers. The editorial opined the comparison revealed undercounts that favor one political party. Such speculation continues a media disinformation campaign.

Congress should consider a bipartisan blue-ribbon commission to review practices and consider conducting data collection before the height of political frenzy and disinformation that occurs during an election cycle. The nation deserves it.

Steven Dillingham, Alexandria

The writer was Census Bureau director from January 2019 to January 2021.

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