DeSoto leads census count as deadline challenges continue

It’s still not a certainty, but for now, the deadline for wrapping up the 2020 U.S. Census is Oct. 31, instead of the earlier determined Sept. 30 deadline date.  

A federal court ruling from Northern California Thursday, Sept. 24, ruled in favor of extending the deadline to the end of October.  The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh requires the Census Bureau to continue compiling information for another month.  

Whether that will actually happen is still in question, however, because the U.S. Justice Department plans to appeal the court ruling.  

Judge Koh ruled the shortened deadline would result in inaccurate results, especially in groups of color and immigrants, adversely affecting the proper distribution of U.S. House of Representative seats. 

The decision to change the deadline by the Trump administration was made in July with no immediate explanation. Later, Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham said it was done to make sure the final results would be compiled to give to the White House by the end of the year, which the bureau is required by the Constitution to do. Challenges getting the count completed due to the coronavirus pandemic was cited among the bureau’s issues in completing the count of Americans.  

There is a similar legal challenge to the September deadline in Maryland and a court there is expected to rule soon on the federal government’s move for the earlier deadline date.  

Meanwhile, in the state of Mississippi, DeSoto County remains the place that has done the best job of self-reporting residents during the census. 

The county and its cities have actively pushed its citizens to be counted so it can be assured of correct representation for federal funding and support during the next decade, as well as setting the boundaries for districting and representation at the city, county, state, and federal level.    

According to Census figures as of Friday, Sept. 25, DeSoto County leads the state in the self-response rate at 72.1 percent, ahead of Madison County at 71,7 percent. 

Madison leads the state for cities responding to the Census at 83.1 percent. Hernando leads DeSoto County cities and is seventh among state cities in its self-response at 74.9 percent. Olive Branch ranks 10th in the state at 73.8 percent,  

“We’re proud of the people in DeSoto County who have responded to the Census,” said DeSoto County Supervisor Lee Caldwell. “Our more than 72.1 percent self-response rate is tops in the state.  That also means nearly 28 percent of our estimated households still haven’t been counted. If the extension holds, the extra month will help ensure more people are counted.”

Caldwell added that if the appeal is successful, and the deadline returns to Sept. 30, the county will continue to work hard to encourage citizens to take the Census.

(Story ideas? email desotocountynews@gmail.com)

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