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VERIFY: Could the Census be canceled or delayed amid coronavirus pandemic?

The Census canvassers would typically start knocking on doors within the next couple months. With the spreading virus, this suddenly seems at risk.

WASHINGTON — Question:

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, could the Census be delayed or canceled? 


No. The Census is a mandatory process, that must happen every 10 years, according to the Constitution. The Census Bureau did have to delay some door-to-door canvassing this month, but told the Verify Team they are still confident the process will be done in time. 


  • The Census Bureau 
  • Article 1, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution


As the coronavirus continues to spread, health authorities have been pushing for people to stay indoors and practice social distancing. This has made many question whether the Census will be canceled or postponed. 

On Friday, the Census Bureau announced that they were delaying the deadline for counting everyone by two weeks. Field Operations are now delayed through April 1, the agency announced on a media phone call. 

The Verify Team explored whether the process could really be canceled or postponed if the crisis continued. 

The Census was first held in 1790, and has been held every 10 years since then. This process is outlined in Article 1, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution. For this reason, canceling the Census would be out of the question, according to the Census Bureau. 

"Even though many things may seem uncertain at this moment," said Albert Fontenot, Jr., associate director for decennial Census programs, "one thing isn't: the 2020 Census is here. It's important that everyone responds. 

Delaying the completion date of the Census would also be unprecedented. A spokesperson for the Census said that the results have to be turned over to the President by December 31. 

The Bureau is hopeful that technology may be the saving grace this year. For the first time, people will be able to self-respond online, a process that can be completed in just minutes. If more people respond online, then the number of door-to-door canvassers will be far less. 

"It has never been easier to respond on your own," said Fontenot. "You can respond online, over the phone, or by mail, all without having to meet a Census taker." 

The big date to watch is May 28th. That's when wide-scale door-to-door canvassing begins, to knock on doors where people did not respond on their own. 

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