MLive: Mich. minorities and children could be undercounted in 2020 census.

This March 23, 2018, file photo shows an envelope containing a 2018 census letter mailed to a U.S. resident as part of the nation's only test run of the 2020 Census. A trial will begin in federal court on Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, in San Francisco, over the Trump administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 U.S. Census.


This March 23, 2018, file photo shows an envelope containing a 2018 census letter mailed to a U.S. resident as part of the nation’s only test run of the 2020 Census. A trial will begin in federal court on Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, in San Francisco, over the Trump administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 U.S. Census.


Michigan’s population is likely to be slightly above 10 million in the 2020 census, and could set a new record, but there is a risk of an undercount, particularly among minorities and children under age 5, experts say.

That undercount could be as high was 0.56 % — or about 56,000 residents — according to state-by-state analysis by the Urban Institute.

The study projected that Michigan’s count will come in at 10,058,300. The current record for state population was set in 2004, at 10,055,315. The Census Bureau’s most recent population estimate was 9,995,915 as of July 1, 2018.

The decennial census counts are critical for states as well as local governments because it determines the number of congressional seats apportioned to each state, and is used for drawing congressional districts and legislative districts within Michigan. Moreover, Congress distributes $800 billion annually to communities based on Census data.

“The census is incredibly important. It comes down to power and money,” said Nellie Tsai, community and civic engagement director for the Michigan Nonproft Association. Tsai spoke about the census at a June 3 workshop in Detroit.

The 2020 count begins next spring in Michigan, when most households will receive a letter telling them how to fill out the census form online or obtain a paper questionnaire.

At particular risk of being undercounted: African-Americans and Hispanics of all ages, as well as children under 5, the Urban Institute analysis said.

The study estimated the census may undercount Michigan’s African-Americans and Hispanics each by 3.5% — or 51,600 African-Americans and 18,300 Hispanics.

The undercount of young children could be as high as 5.6%, leaving 33,300 children under age 5 uncounted, the study said.

Those numbers could be offset by overcounts of other populations: The study projects a potential overcount of whites by 0.3%, or 21,100 people, and a overcount of those age 50 and older by 39,700.

There are a variety of reasons that certain populations could be under- or overcounted, experts at this census workshop said.

In the case of young children, it was a phenomenon first noticed in the 1990 and one that has persisted since, said John Thompson, who directed the 2000 U.S. census and former executive director for the Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics.

That undercount is most prevalent among children under age 5 who live in “complex families” — i.e., children who don’t live with two biological parents and have young parents who are transitory. Those children — who may live in a blended family, with grandparents or other relatives, or as part of a household of unrelated adults — can fall through the cracks when the census form is filled out, the experts said.

Minorities — including African-American, Hispanics and immigrants — also can get undercounted because they are more likely to be renters or in unstable housing situations in which they get missed by census-takers, or may be wary of filling out the census questionnaire.

Adding to worries about an accurate count of immigrants is the current court battle over whether the census form will ask people whether they are a U.S. citizen.

The question has been not asked in a decennial census since 1950, and there are concerns that adding it to the 2020 form could discourage immigrants from participating in the census. The issue has gone to the U.S. Supreme Court, which is expected to issue a ruling this month.

At the other end of the spectrum, overcounts can occur in other populations, such as older residents who have multiple residences; college students who get counted by their families in their hometowns as well as by the campus residence, and children in joint-custody arrangement where both parents include the child on a census form.

To ensure an accurate count in Michigan, the Kellogg Foundation has given $600,000 to the Michigan Nonprofit Association to work with community organizations around the state who can reach out to hard-to-count populations.

Tsai said her group is developing “specific strategies,” from advertising to other public awareness campaigns, so that people know the importance of the census and how to participate.

Experts say the city of Detroit is particularly at risk of undercount because it has a high number of minorities, immigrants, renters and those in unstable housing situations.

“Detroit has among the highest hard-to-count populations in the country,” said Hassan Jaber, CEO of ACCESS, a nonproft that serves the Arab-American community.

He said the issues surrounding the citizenship question, paired with President Trump’s anti-immigrant stances, complicate matters further.

“We are facing a very challenging political environment, and we need to navigate that environment,” Jaber said.

But his organization is among those committed to encouraging participation in the census, regardless of whether the citizenship question is included.

“The goal has to be a complete count,” Jaber said.

FYI-Becoming a Precinct Delegate

Keep this in mind for local party building  in 2020.-Frank

What is a precinct?

The precinct is the smallest political unit in the country and all voters in a precinct vote at one location. The precinct is where elections are won and lost. It is your neighborhood. You know the people and you know what issues are most important to them.

What is a Precinct Delegate?

The role of a precinct delegate is one of the most important yet least understood of any elected office. Precinct delegates to serve as a bridge between the Democrats in your neighborhood and the Democratic Party. Additionally, each precinct delegate represents their neighborhood at Democratic Party meetings. It is the active precinct delegate who wins elections for the Democratic Party.

What do Precinct Delegates do?

  • Help Democrats get registered to vote.
  • Take information on issues and candidates to the voters in your precinct.
  • Identify other Democrats, and recruit new Party members.
  • Help turn out the Democratic vote in your neighborhood on Election Day.
  • Keep Democratic leaders informed about the issues that concern voters.

How do Precinct Delegates get elected?

Precinct delegates are elected in the Democratic primary every 2 years in August. Only Democratic voters choose Democratic precinct delegates.

Each precinct is allotted precinct delegates based on past Democratic voting strength. Your district or county chair will be able to tell you how many delegate positions have been allocated to your precinct.

Precinct delegate candidates file an Affidavit of Identity to get on the ballot. There is no longer a petition requirement for precinct delegate candidates. A precinct delegate candidate can file with the clerk of their county, city or township of residence. (Formerly, all precinct delegate candidates filed at the county level.) Your Affidavit of Identity must be notarized.

Candidates for precinct delegate must file their Affidavit of Identity form with their county clerk. The filing deadline for precinct delegate candidates falls on the twelfth Tuesday prior to the August primary. A precinct delegate can be elected with just one vote. (Formerly a precinct delegate candidate needed a three-vote minimum.)

What are the responsibilities of Precinct Delegates?

Precinct Delegates are the campaign leaders for the Democratic Party in their precincts. After the primary election, those elected will be officially notified by the county clerk by mail. The notification will include the time and place of the district or county Democratic convention, which will be held in August after the primary.

Precinct delegates should take their official notification to the district or county convention to register with the convention credentials committee.

District or county conventions will elect delegates to the state convention held in August or September. These conventions may also debate or adopt resolutions for recommendation to the state convention’s platform committee.

The state convention will debate and adopt a platform, nominate candidates for Supreme Court Justices, State Board of Education, and university boards, and select presidential electors.

What other functions do Precinct Delegates have?

After Election Day, precinct delegates have another responsibility. Precinct delegates will convene in district or county conventions to elect executive committees and officers to serve through the next general election. There they will also elect delegates to the February state convention where new state party officers and a new state central committee will be chosen to serve for the next 2 years.

Checklist to Become a Precinct Delegate

  • Obtain a precinct map from the county, city or township clerk’s office.
  • Find out the number of Democratic precinct delegate positions in your precinct.
  • File your Affidavit of Identity with your county, city or township clerk no later than 4:00 p.m. on the twelfth Tuesday before the August Primary, in May. Your Affidavit of Identity must be notarized. Find out how many candidates have filed for precinct delegate in your precinct.
  • If you have opposition, contact your neighbors, friends and family that reside in your precinct and ask for their support. Primary election day is in August. Remember to vote.
  • Get involved in your local Democratic Party immediately. Keep the Party informed about what your neighbors are talking about and keep your neighbors informed about what elected Democrats are doing form them.

The Democratic Party is here to help. Contact us if you need information or assistance. By working together, we can deliver Michigan for the Democratic ticket.

Don’t sit on the sidelines – be a part of the political solution.

Run for Precinct Delegate!

1st Debate Watching Party, June 26th

We are looking forward to viewing the first of many Democratic Debates. On June 26th we will be at the Lakeshore Inn on the west side of Houghton Lake. Please plan on attending and bring family and friends. Details to follow.