Watchdog groups are concerned about a Department of Justice request to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census. The agency says the information is needed to enforce the Voting Rights Act, specifically a section that bans racial discrimination.
“It’s just a ridiculous political statement and doesn’t hold water given the facts,” says Phil Sparks, co-director of the Census Project, a national coalition of groups that use census data.
Sparks says asking respondents whether they are U.S. citizens would throw a wrench into an already experimental process. The 2020 census will be the first one conducted largely online. He notes that the Census Bureau already collects citizenship data through smaller surveys.