In the coming months, Nonprofit VOTE will be building out our Nonprofits Count resource library to help nonprofits engage in and support a fair and accurate Census in 2020. Nonprofits, as we did in 2010, can help ensure the communities we serve are counted. Before we get to the counting part though, there are some key policy questions that are being decided now.

One of these key issues is the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. The Census, by law, is supposed to count all residents of the country regardless of citizenship. However, the recent decision to include a citizenship question on the 2020 Census – something not done since 1950 – will deter many communities from participating. The result will be a flawed Census that fails to provide an accurate picture of who lives here and where. This will have implications on everything from distribution of funding for critical programs and services, redistricting, locations of schools and businesses, and other public infrastructure. And that, in turn, will impact nonprofits.

Announced by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in March, the citizenship question is already the focus of multiple lawsuits. And now, over 150 groups including The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Muslim Advocates, and the National Coalition of Black Civic Participation, have submitted a “friend of the court” brief further challenging the inclusion of the question.

The brief, part of a lawsuit against the government brought by the State of New York, states in part, “the misguided decision to reverse seventy years of consistent census practice and insert an untested citizenship question undermines the integrity of the count, damages our communities, and violates the Census Bureau’s constitutional and statutory duties to conduct a full enumeration of the U.S. population.” Additionally, the brief says the new census will do great damage by “undercount[ing] the minority populations who rely on that data to bring VRA claims.” Click here to read the brief in full.

For more information see the Asian Americans Advancing Justice fact sheet on the addition of the citizenship question.