Colorado joins lawsuit to block addition of untested citizenship question to 2020 Census

Written by: Sarah Hughes
Date Posted: May 4, 2018

Earlier this week, Gov. John Hickenlooper announced that Colorado would join 18 other states in a lawsuit attempting to block the last-minute addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. As we noted a few weeks ago, Census experts warn that adding a question about citizenship to the Census questionnaire that goes to every household could depress response rates, resulting in inaccurate data that Americans will have to live with for the next decade and that will impact the amount of funding states get to run a number of programs including Medicaid and CHIP. We commend Gov. Hickenlooper for his decision to add Colorado to the list of states opposing this action and for his commitment to ensuring a fair and accurate Census count for our state.

Colorado’s Attorney General Cynthia Coffman has voiced her support for the inclusion of a citizenship question on the Census; therefore, the Attorney General’s office will not represent Colorado in the lawsuit. Instead, Gov. Hickenlooper appointed his chief legal counsel as a special assistant attorney general to represent Colorado in the case.

Changes to the questions included on the Census form are typically tested for months or even years, so that Census Bureau staff can understand how each question may affect the accuracy of the data collected and make adjustments as necessary. The Trump administration’s decision to add the citizenship question late in this decennial Census cycle means that the question is not included in scheduled trial runs, depriving Census Bureau researchers of valuable information about how the question may affect response rates and accuracy. Even prior to the addition of the citizenship question, however, Census Bureau researchers noted that focus group participants were voicing “unprecedented” concerns about the confidentiality of data collected through Census Bureau surveys. Click here for more information about how the addition of an untested citizenship question could undermine the accuracy of the 2020 Census.

Last month, the Children’s Campaign joined more than 300 other state and national organizations in signing on to letters urging Congressional committees charged with overseeing the Census to hold oversight hearings on the decision to include a citizenship question on the upcoming Census. The House Oversight and Government Reform committee has scheduled an oversight hearing for May 8, so stay tuned to KidsFlash for updates on the hearing and other Census-related issues.

Sarah Hughes

About Sarah Hughes

Sarah Hughes is the Research Director for the Colorado Children’s Campaign. In this role, she leads the organization’s research and data efforts – including the development and publication of the annual KIDS COUNT in Colorado! report. Prior to joining the Children’s Campaign, Sarah worked in PR and communications, as well as working directly with children and adolescents in various capacities. She holds a Master of Social Work with a specialization in Advocacy, Leadership, and Social Change from the University of Illinois and a B.S. in Business and Political Science from Washington University in St. Louis.