The Census, it is not just scientific but always political because it always has an outcome and part of the outcome is how districts are set to go to congress and also how Federal funds are divided up to go to programs in states and counties. So the stake in a census is never just a matter of ‘shall we fairly count all the heads’. It’s always about people who have the power using the power to maintain a privilege that they may have or those that don’t have that privilege nor the power attempting to have things reversed.
The Supreme Court came down and decided that this census should take place because that’s what the constitution declared. However, statisticians believe that sampling is a better way for doing a count of the U.S population because you can use statistical theory using probability theory to perform the process in a mere orderly fashion with greater accuracy therefore giving you better results that you can project up to the entire population. Where as the census itself is such a big and broad scope that it requires so many people across the whole country and there is a greater chance for error with problems that are occurring and for undercounts and for miscounting. If you concentrate with smaller pockets and do a better job within those smaller pockets you will get a better feel for what’s going to happen.
So, ‘’the head count” the actual physical count of people has tended to undercount the population and that has tended to favor the Republicans. They weren’t in charge of the Census Bureau 10 yrs ago when the Census was done and they were able to place a lot of their people within the Bureau. So, you have people who have political points of view administering the Bureau. Then there are professionals in the Census Bureau who just want the counted numbers. They really just want to know what the numbers are. The argument of other people including the Democrats is that we have learned enough statistically about things that we can make projections that are very accurate about people who don’t get counted in the survey. So their debate is we ought to use the statistical
Sampling. They go to an area and do a very intense actual count and they use the results of that to project what it would be everywhere. Especially because the energy and money is not available to do the entire population, and they argue that those statistical sampling then should be used to interpret the data. That would show more minority people in existence, more immigrants or new comers to the country in existence.
The struggle is basically an important one, the Democrat and Republican Parties each have their point of view and this year the Supreme Court went against using sampling but instead for using head counts. So that’s the way the Census will be interpreted. However that’s never the end of it; so after the Census is done and the numbers are out and people aren’t happy as an example Plainfield who feels they are severely undercounted, communities sue the government. So over the course of a couple of years these law suits are settled through the Courts and what happens as a result of them is usually that the Census Bureau is required to go out resample some of the population and make an adjustment based on that.
The undercount primarily affects urban areas. It can also happen in rural areas where they just don’t get out to all the little countryside areas and get an accurate count. Normally, there are so few people in those really rural areas it doesn’t really better the conditions that much in their districting in urban areas it really impacts. Perth Amboy is leading a group of cities to challenge the court and the Mayor of Perth Amboy is leading the group. So what happens is, it becomes a question of whether we are getting fair representation in the Congress because this determines the counts. There is a question about whether there is accurate representation of New Jerseys’ own internal picture so when we redistrict for our assembly whether the districts are fairly equal which is what they are suppose to be of your undercounted you can’t be certain. And also because public money is for schools, transportation, services for senior citizens and lots of other services are distributed based on the Census. So, if you are undercounted you are not getting the share of the money.
There are people who are habitually undercounted such as poor people, people of color, shutting, seniors, people who live in institutions and recent new comers to the country. With the recent new comers it is often a question of language – not being familiar with the custom, they are from a country where the government is not a friend of the people and so to come and say “I am from the government-Census” they run the other way or if they are undocumented they do not realize that immune to by virtue of success by fear of being counted, but it makes an issue. Poor people often become transient, don’t participate in surveys due to not highly literate, forms are thrown away and even misplaced as in the case of some elderly people, institutionalized people due to not been able to physically sit down and concentrate to fill out forms. If the initiative is not taken for assistance, they too can become undercounted.
The constant survey or Census for tracking of population to update the figures and tracking continually throughout the decade, the different pieces of information so that they are continually updating rather than making projections is called the continuous measurement system. It was in 1996 American Community Survey, which the Census Bureau conducted between November 1995 and December 1996 was the initial step in this implementation. This served to determine the feasibility of the procedures that are used to collect and process data. In July 1997, the Census began to release data because the American Community Survey demonstrated the richness and utility of the data through publications, tabulations, and public use in files.
Due to the effectiveness of the ACS, we can get reports that show that New Jersey is one of the most densely populated place in the world; 1400 per square mile. In addition New Jersey for the year 1990 had a net undercount of 0.6%, the number of people missed was 44,223. Also in 2000 the net undercount was 1.1%, the number of people missed was 91,867. The difference between the years 1990 and 2000 was –47,664 as of March 26th 2001. New Jersey Census due to these factors is one of the 1st states to get a lot of their reports. Upon further evaluation, California, Texas and Florida showed a great increase, as did Arizona who will get another Congress seat. Places like Pennsylvania and New York lost representation.
Www.cmbp.gov/news/032801.undercounted.asp, CMBP- Press Release