Census Bureau Finishes Some Local Count Challenges

By: - September 2, 2022 12:00 am

The Whiteville Correctional Facility in Whiteville, Tenn., was mislocated by census 2020. The U.S. Census Bureau corrected the mistake after a challenge, one of six completed cases so far. Devin Wagner/The Jackson Sun via The Association Press

The U.S Census Bureau has completed six of the 47 challenges by localities to 2020 counts so far this year, and some have been successful.

Some cities small and large have complained that flawed counts have cut off funding based on population and challenges filed under the Count Question Resolution program, considered mapping mistakes that placed buildings in the wrong municipality.

The completions, as reported by the bureau, are for Chester and Glennville in Georgia; Fontana-on-Geneva Lake, Wisconsin; Dutchess County, New York; Tumwater, Washington, and Whiteville, Tennessee. The other cases are either pending, withdrawn or closed by the bureau because of incomplete documentation but may be reopened.

Some of the localities had state help: Tennessee’s State Data Center helped Whiteville demonstrate that a correctional facility was incorrectly placed outside the town, raising its 2020 population by almost 2,000 to 4,564. The change will be reflected in official state counts used for funding distribution, the data center said in an August post.

The state data center found a similar situation in Cleveland, Tennessee, where a challenge case is still pending.

Washington state’s Office of Financial Management helped the city of Tumwater realize that a county jail had been counted at the wrong address, giving several hundred people to neighboring Olympia by mistake, said Tumwater planning manager Brad Medrud. A total of 113 people were moved from Olympia to Tumwater in a revised count because the jail facility moved, and the Census Bureau apparently used an outdated address in Olympia, state demographer Mike Mohrman said.

New York’s Dutchess County had reported misplacement of the Fishkill Correctional Facility.

Fontana-on-Geneva Lake officials had an unusual problem – they thought the census found too many people – an extra 1,000 people in an area with only a few dozen permanent residents. That count created headaches for Walworth County, which includes the village, and would have had to give the village more representation on the governing Board of Supervisors.

Local governments have until June 30, 2023, to submit a challenge. If challenges succeed, the new counts will be published in future estimates but won’t change official 2020 census figures.

A separate program for reviewing institutional counts from 2020, such as college dorms and prisons, called the Post-Census Group Quarters Review, has eight pending cases from localities in Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Maine and Michigan, as well as one rejected as incomplete from Crete, Nebraska.

The group quarters cases also will be accepted through June 30.

It’s not clear how many challenges were upheld and which may have been denied after review. Detailed results will be posted later, Census Bureau spokesperson Kristina Barrett said.

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Tim Henderson
Tim Henderson

Tim Henderson covers demographics for Stateline. He has been a reporter at the Miami Herald, the Cincinnati Enquirer and the Journal News.