Census, like Post Office, politicized in election year

FILE - This Sunday, April 5, 2020, photo shows an envelope containing a 2020 census letter mailed to a U.S. resident in Detroit. The U.S. Census Bureau has spent much of the past year defending itself against allegations that its duties have been overtaken by politics. With a failed attempt by the Trump administration to add a citizenship question, the hiring of three political appointees with limited experience to top positions, a sped-up schedule and a directive from President Donald Trump to exclude undocumented residents from the process of redrawing congressional districts, the 2020 census has descended into a high-stakes partisan battle. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The postal service isn’t the only staid federal agency to be drawn into a political battle this year.

Unlike the department charged with delivering mail, however, the U.S. Census Bureau has been targeted by politicians since it conducted its first nationwide head count in 1790.

The reason is obvious: The census determines not only how much federal money each state gets, but also how many congressional seats and Electoral College votes.

And yet some fear the task of measuring the country’s population is more at risk than ever in 2020 amid historic partisan and cultural divides. 


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