Why the Trump census count has already begun to negatively impact La Paz County

According to the U.S. Census, roughly 20 percent of La Paz County’s residents disappeared from towns like Parker and Quartzsite between 2010 and 2020. The idea is “ludicrous”, County Supervisor Duce Minor responded last summer when the numbers were announced. But the Trump administration’s interference for political reasons makes the inaccuracy in the 2020 Census an even bigger issue than one affecting La Paz County alone.

The new figures from 2020 say that La Paz County has a population of 16,557, down from 20,489 a decade earlier. But even the Census Bureau’s own estimates for the county’s population would seem to dispute the census. The Bureau in 2019 estimated a growth in La Paz’s population, to 21,108, rather than a reduction.

Why it matters: The results of the census play a key role in determining how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding are spent for a decade, including grants and support to states, counties and communities. It helps communities get their fair share for schools, hospitals, roads, public works, programs and more. The numbers are also used by nonprofit organizations and even big corporations to make decisions on where to allocate resources.

Former President Trump, who had a limited window of opportunity for his administration to attempt to radically reshape the futures of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Electoral College, pushed the Census Bureau to rush the count and cut short the time for doing their job during a pandemic year. The moves sparked public outcries, including a federal lawsuit that reached the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Bureau’s Deputy Director Ron Jarmin said in a private September 2020 email to civil servants that the administration was demonstrating an “unusually” high level of “engagement in technical matters, which is unprecedented relative to the previous censuses.” The document, first reported by the New York Times, details the wide scope of the administration’s interference, which included interventions in methodologies and procedures for filling in data gaps, reviewing the counts for errors and protecting the confidentiality of people’s information. The administration wanted to exclude unauthorized immigrants from the census counts and generally have a Republican-favoring result.

The findings of a followup survey of Americans by the Bureau itself was released a few weeks ago, suggesting a lot of inaccuracy in the results of the 2020 Census nationwide, not just in La Paz County. The census has “a pretty good chance of being the least accurate census in modern memory,” according to William H. Frey, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. It also had big undercounts of Black people, Latinos and Native Americans.

The consequences for La Paz County just became manifest in the first tangible way, when the questionable new population numbers triggered redistricting. Under the rules, district boundaries can remain set in place for as long as the population does not change 5 percent in either an upward or downward direction. But since the Trump census numbers say that the county population declined by around 20 percent, the maps now need to be redrawn.

The first step in the process will be using outside consultants to bring maps to the Board of Supervisors for their input, followed by a public comment period and further steps.

La Paz County was already the second-smallest county in the state of Arizona, with one of the oldest populations in the nation, and it suffers from a chronic underfunding issue due to its extremely high percentage of public lands and corresponding low tax base.

10 comments

  1. Unfortunately, it was likely an intentional undercount. 😢

  2. There was a strong push to increase the % of people to respond to the census. Maybe partially due to COVID, and perhaps what was outlined in this article, the fact still remains that only about 20% of La Paz’s population responded to the census. It’s on us.

  3. Wow as if we wouldn’t know Duce Miner, bitching about not having extra money to put in his pocket cause it sure ain’t being spent on the county kinda like buying 3 $300,000 graders and having one operator. Buying all county worker aims covid each there own truck to drive around. With 40 extra not being drove. No I don’t think you people should get any extra funds what so ever cause you people make bad choices on spending fed money.

  4. So Trump personally made sure to screw over La Paz county, which consistently votes Republican. That makes a lot of sense. It makes almost as much sense as “unauthorized immigrant”.

  5. Wonder if anyone considered that lock-downs and COVID fears kept a lot of the snowbirds, who would usually be here in April for the count, stayed home or went home early? 4,000 snowbirds out of the 200,000 plus that winter over in the County is a drop in the bucket. Yep. It’s always Trump’s fault to the socialists in American media.

  6. Parker Live

    Dion Alli That’s not what the article says. It says that the Trump administration was trying to rush the census for political purposes, and the result was a likely inaccurate result and undercounting (especially of minority groups).

  7. I had personal interaction with several of the census takers in my community and in my opinion they had no clue what they were doing! I had 3 sets of census takers come to my door over several weeks. Not the Presidents fault, give these people training, they were not familiar with our area, not realizing this is a resort community. What a waste of money sending out 3 different sets of census takers! Whose hiring these people? I wouldn’t rely on their figures.

  8. Parker Live you know me I will let you know when something is happening when I hear about it. But I am disgusted by this article. How about the fact that not everyone was interviewed for the census? People lied or other factors?

  9. Parker Live

    There’s nothing unfactual in the article.

  10. the census were kept home because of covid,participating online was simple and only took 10 minutes but people didn’t take the time to do it,the county didn’t push online registration hard enough. blaming someone in DC is a cop out,. 10 minutes and a caveman could have done it

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