Hansi Lo Wang for NPR:
Weeks before the Trump administration announced it was cutting the 2020 census schedule short, career officials at the Census Bureau attempted to send signal flares about how that last-minute decision would lead to “fatal” data problems with the national head count and the perception of “politically-manipulated results.”
Internal emails and memos, which were released this weekend as part of a federal lawsuit in California, show career officials trying to hold the integrity of the once-a-decade count together in the last weeks of July amid mounting pressure from the administration to abandon the extended timeline it had previously approved in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Shortening that schedule, a draft document dated July 23 warned, “will result in a census that has fatal data quality flaws that are unacceptable for a Constitutionally-mandated national activity.”
With counting now set to end on Sept. 30, the revelations come shortly before federal courts are expected to decide whether to order the administration to keep tallying the country’s residents through Oct. 31.