Study finds no major irregularities: NPR


People walk past a “Complete the Census” sign along the Hudson River Greenway in New York City in September 2020.

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Alexi Rosenfeld / Getty Images

People walk past a “Complete the Census” sign along the Hudson River Greenway in New York City in September 2020.

Alexi Rosenfeld / Getty Images

An independent panel of researchers said they found no major irregularities in the 2020 census results that were used to reallocate congressional seats and Electoral College votes for the next decade.

In a report released Tuesday, the American Statistical Association’s Working Group of Census Experts also noted that despite concerns about interference from the administration of former President Donald Trump, their review did not revealed “no evidence of anything other than an independent and professional enumeration process” by the Census Bureau’s career officials who took “the necessary corrective action.”

Their assessment comes about five months after the state’s population totals were released in April from a national workforce that was upset by last-minute schedule changes due to the coronavirus pandemic and officials. of Trump.

“We might have come to a different conclusion if the elections had gone differently and they had to release figures on December 31,” said Nancy Potok, former deputy director of the Census Bureau who co-chaired the task force, during a press briefing ahead of the report’s release in reference to unsuccessful efforts by Trump officials to increase delivery of the state’s population numbers.

Instead, the office ultimately pushed it back to perform more quality checks, which Potok said gave the task force “a lot of confidence” in the agency’s work.

The report did not conclude that the census results had no errors

The working group stopped before declaring the first major set of 2020 census results to be trouble-free.

“We are statisticians, remember that, so we believe that the absence of evidence is insufficient to conclusively state that there were no errors,” added Potok, who spoke volunteered last year as a member of President Biden’s transition. agency review team for the Ministry of Commerce, who oversees the office.

Further evaluations are needed, the task force warns, as its evaluation was limited to examining how the office’s career staff prepared the Congress breakdown tally. Researchers in the working group also inspected some internal data files on the agency’s state-level operations, which does not provide a complete picture given that census participation can vary widely by neighborhood. to the other.

The office, which the task force said received a copy of the report before it was released, did not immediately respond to NPR’s request for comment.

Two original members of the task force, formed last year, have been appointed by the Biden administration to join the office. Robert Santos, Biden’s candidate to be the next office manager, and Kenneth Prewitt, a former office manager who is now a senior adviser at the agency, resigned in April and was not involved in the final report, according to the task force.

There is another independent evaluation of the census results

Acting director of the office, Ron Jarmin, told press conferences that while “no census is perfect,” the figures released so far “meet our high standards for data quality.”

Yet at the request of the bureau, the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine have formed a separate independent group that is also evaluating last year’s census.

The American Statistical Association’s task force said it no longer plans to release a report on the quality of the detailed demographics used for the redistribution that the office released in August.

Instead, he urges the panel of national academies to take a close look the high rate of households not responding to race, Hispanic origin, and other demographic issues on census forms, as well as last-minute changes to how government records were used to count households that do not respond due to the Trump administration’s cutbacks in door-to-door efforts .

The working group also recommends that plans for the 2030 census include the provision of quality indicators on the different operations for enumeration before the publication of the first set of results, instead of months later.


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