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Take the time for a proper Census count

Perhaps no Census during the past century has faced challenges like those in charge of the 2020 population count must find ways to overcome.

Clearly, however, they indeed must develop solutions to the problem of counting Americans who may have been too preoccupied with staying well to respond to the Census by mail or online — and for the same reason may be reluctant to answer the door when a Census information gatherer knocks.

More than just information for the statisticians to pore over is involved in the Census. It is used to determine how many members of the House of Representatives each state is allotted — and how much weight each has in the Electorial College that selects presidents. Census numbers are used within states to determine representation in legislatures. Federal funding agencies hand out hundreds of billions of dollars based on how many people live where.

In a word, the Census is important.

So how did federal officials react to this year’s unique obstacles? By reducing the amount of time provided for collection of information.

At one point, the Census Bureau had set the end of October to conclude gathering of information. Earlier this summer, it was decreed the deadline would be pushed back to the end of this month.

On Saturday, a federal judge in California issued a temporary restraining order banning Census officials from proceeding with that schedule. It will be in effect at least until after a hearing on the matter is held Sept. 17.

The order should be extended. If anything, Census officials and workers will need more time, not less, to gather information this year.

If that process is shortened by a month, it is virtually inevitable that the losers will be small, less densely populated states.

Census Bureau officials should be ordered to keep counting until Oct. 31. Doing otherwise would make a mockery of the 2020 Census.

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