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Changing Census Deadline Confuses Often-Undercounted Communities

A woman stands in front of a table with a blue table cloth on it. In front of her is a sign that says "Request Your Absentee Ballot Here."
Kassidy Arena
IPR file
Amanda Lovan stands in front of her information table at C-Fresh Market in Des Moines. Lovan said she chose this area because it has a diverse community.

The unclear deadline for census response has worried some minority communities in Iowa.

The deadline for gathering census information has moved back and forth on the calendar and as of this week, is October 5.

Voter registration and census information go hand-in-hand for Amanda Lovan, the chair of the Asian and Latino Coalition in Iowa. She has stood outside of C-Fresh, a Des Moines grocery store, for weeks to promote voter registration and census completion. Now, she said she does not know how to explain the constant changing of the deadline to minority communities, who are historically undercounted.

“It is confusing. Sometimes I just don’t know what to tell people why it keeps getting moved," Lovan said.

Lovan worked with a Census Bureau regional manager to arrange for a census representative to work with her in front of the store. This way, she can focus her efforts specifically on registering voters and the census worker can focus on the census. Although, Lovan still has census information translated to multiple languages to appeal to non-English speakers in the area.

Lovan said the changing dates can be harmful to people living in underrepresented places.

“People are confused. Why does it keep getting extended? Yes, we understand people need to get counted, but you know, it was originally supposed to end in April and then it got originally bumped up until October but then cut to September, but now it's October again," Lovan listed all the deadline changes.

Lovan said she hopes the Census Bureau will continue to provide a representative up until the official last day to gather census information, whichever day that turns out to be.

Kassidy was a reporter based in Des Moines