US Census

Prince George's, NAACP Sue Over US Census Staffing in the County

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Prince George's County and the NAACP are suing the U.S. Census Bureau, saying it doesn't have enough staff in the county.
The county has been undercounted every 10 years since 1990, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The data is used to make funding decisions about things like fire stations, schools and clinics, which is why an accurate count is critical.

“Prince George’s County was the most undercounted jurisdiction in Maryland in the last census,” County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said. “We don't want that to happen again.”

The county and the NAACP filed a lawsuit in 2018 hoping to force the Census Bureau to pour more resources into the Prince George's County's count, but it was rejected.

On Jan. 10, an appeals court upheld the suit, saying it's a constitutional right that Prince Georgians and all minority communities in the U.S. are properly counted.

“We learned that they intended to slash field offices, to really slash the amount of resources they brought to our jurisdiction, which is why we filed the lawsuit,” Alsobrooks said.

The Census Bureau has designated Prince George's a hard-to-count county. County officials say that's due to the county's elderly population, immigrants and economically challenged residents.

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The undercount cost the county more than $360 million in federal funding in 2010.

Alsobrooks has hosted block parties and training sessions in hopes of preparing workers and residents for this year's critical count.

“We've spent critical county dollars trying to make sure that we don't lose this larger amount of money again and we want the federal government to do its job as well,” she said.

The county wants at least as many counters as it had in 2010 but hopes to get a few more.

The lawsuit also faulted the bureau for conducting limited testing, particularly when, for the first time, it is encouraging most respondents to answer the questionnaire online. 

The count starts next week in rural Alaska, but the rest of the country won't be able to start answering the questionnaire until mid-March.

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