The 2020 Maryland Census Delay

And how this impacts funding for the Hammond Community 

By Lizzy Hughes

Staff Writer

Image Source: CNN

The Hammond community is represented by the Maryland State Governor, as well as the state representatives in Congress. The population of Hammond students is largely impacted by the state census that is collected once every decade, as the census determines how billions of dollars in federal funds are distributed to the public school systems in Maryland. If the data is inaccurate, communities with large populations of minorities might not be represented and the public schools in those districts would not receive the resources they need. 

The US Census Bureau planned to get the results of the 2020 census data by the end of March, but in the last few weeks, officials said they would not release the data until the end of September. This decision delay means that Maryland lawmakers will not be able to redraw the state’s political boundaries before 2022. The Bureau stated that the delay was because they had a difficult time surveying every household in the nation face to face due to COVID-19. 

Once Maryland receives this data, it will create legislative and congressional boundaries that will be used for the next five elections starting with the U.S. House and General Assembly contests in 2022. Because of the delay, legislators will have less time to draw the boundaries, and less time to compromise disagreements over various precincts. 

Hammond senior Francesca Brou shared her thoughts on the impact of the Maryland census data delay on the Hammond community. “The Hammond community will be greatly affected by the census data delay because we have a lot of students who are lower income. If they are not accurately represented then that also affects the programs that are catered to help them.” 

The census delay will impact the legal and customary redistricting timelines in most states. However, states still have a constitutional obligation to execute the redistricting process by the new due date for the elections in 2022. If states do not make adjustments to complete their redistricting on time, courts can intervene and draw temporary maps to certify that there are legally compliant districts. In the past, courts have also adjusted the filing periods for candidates and delayed primary elections. 

Hammond senior Rachel Osei states, “the working class and middle/low-income families will be impacted if Maryland does not complete the redistricting process on time due to the census collecting information from all Hammond members. Our community could see potential changes if the court has to intervene, and this might not help the citizens in our community.” 

Census data normally takes about five months to process post-count and is used to divide congressional seats. This process is called apportionment, and it relies on an accurate state population because even the smallest mistakes in the counting process could affect how many seats a state like Maryland would get in the House. When citizens do not respond to the census, they do not get counted in the population for the county. In the 2010 census, Anne Arundel County had a 20% non-response rate, and the community lost a total of $43 million of monies because many people did not participate in the census and were not counted.

Hammond High School has a very diverse student population that would be affected by the census if not everyone in the community is counted. The census delay could influence the future of key districts in Howard County, and the delay limits the amount of time for public hearings and outside comments that are important for the districts. The delay also means that there is less time for the drawn maps to contest new district lines in court. 

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