BOSTON - If you haven't been counted as part of the nation's once-in-a-decade census, time is running out.
The U.S. Census Bureau is ending its door-to-door data collection for the 2020 Census at 11 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 15, more than two weeks ahead of schedule.
Secretary of State Bill Galvin, whose office oversees the count in Massachusetts, is urging anyone who hasn’t filled out the census questionnaire to do so within the next day. While field operations wrap up Thursday, people can still answer a questionnaire online and over the phone until early Friday.
Galvin said in a statement that stopping the count early means the state will be "shortchanged in federal funding and electoral representation for the next ten years."
On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Commerce Department can end census field operations two weeks ahead of schedule, rejecting a lower court’s order extending the 2020 Census through the end of October.
The decision was a blow to state and local governments as well as civil rights groups who argue that minorities and others in hard-to-count communities will be missed if the census ends early.
The Trump administration argued that the head count needed to end immediately so the bureau had enough time to crunch the numbers before a Dec. 31 deadline to report the figures to the president.
The census determines how billions of dollars in federal money are distributed, as well as how many seats in Congress each state gets. Counting initially was supposed to be wrapped up by July but the Census Bureau extended its timetable through October due to complications from the coronavirus pandemic.
To date, at least 99.9% of the households in Massachusetts — as well as nationwide — have been counted, according to the bureau's website. About 70% responded to a census questionnaire by mail, online or by telephone.
To be sure, those who can't respond by Thursday will still have another day to be counted.
The U.S. Census Bureau's online portal — www.my2020census.gov — will remain open until Friday at 6 a.m., according to the agency.
The census questionnaire can also be completed over the phone, by calling 1-844-330-2020.
Christian M. Wade covers the Massachusetts Statehouse for North of Boston Media Group’s newspapers and websites. Email him at email@example.com