U.S. Census Results in Delaware Could Have Big Consequences for - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

U.S. Census Results in Delaware Could Have Big Consequences for Small State

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DOVER, Del.- The First State may reach a major milestone next year: officially reaching 1 million recorded residents.

The elusive population mark may be revealed through the results of the 2020 U.S. Census, which aims to count and learn information about people living in the United States of America. The results are used to help determine allocation of federal resources to individual states and political subdivisions at the federal and state levels.

Laura Wisniewski is directing the Delaware's Complete Count Coalition, a group enabled through executive order by Gov. John Carney (D), that is aimed at readying the state, its agencies, and organizations for the census process.

"This is a collaborative initiative," she said.

Getting an accurate snapshot of the state's population in 2020 is important because it can help determine the amount of money Delaware will be allocated by the federal government.

Because the U.S. Census process only occurs every 10 years, Wisniewski said there are likely tens of thousands of Delawareans who have not factored into the state's population at the federal level, an absence that has likely cost the state a lot of money.

"We had under-counted about 30,000 to 40,000 in the state, losing close to $500,000 in the course of the year," she said.

Wisniewski said "special populations" like college students, prisoners, or people living in nursing homes can also complicate the census results because those individuals typically share addresses with many other people at a particular location.

People renting houses at the beach, for instance, can also make things tricky if they find a census form in that home's mailbox, Wisniewski said.

"Technically, if you're renting a beach house you should fill out that form at that beach house."

The census results are also used to help determine political subdivisions and how many members of Congress each state has.

Sam Hoff, George Washington Distinguished Professor of History who works with Delaware State University, said he doesn't think Delaware is likely to gain another seat in the U.S. House, even if it reaches 1 million people.

Because the U.S. House is maxed out at 455 representatives, Hoff said if Delaware petitions the federal government for another House seat then it could only be granted if another state with a declining population loses a representative.

"It's a zero sum game," he said.

But Hoff noted the census could have larger impacts locally in Delaware because it can be used to help redraw political boundaries for the General Assembly's House and Senate.

If the census finds significant growth in Kent and Sussex counties, Hoff said it could mean the maps could be redrawn in a way that adds House or Senate districts into those areas, a scenario that occurred several years ago after the 2010 census.

"Democrats and Republicans have really been pushing for more representation in central and southern Delaware," he said.

 

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