New York Census and Redistricting Institute

Why Census 2020 Matters More Than Ever

Since NYLS’s New York Census and Redistricting Institute launched last fall, COVID-19 has disrupted daily life for millions of New Yorkers.

But the pandemic also underscores why Census 2020 is particularly critical to the state and city, according to Adjunct Professor and Senior Fellow Jeff Wice, who leads the Institute. This spring, he’s been a key voice in explaining why—in the media and through a special course for students.

Making the Case in the Media

Here’s what Professor Wice has said in recent census-related press coverage:

Gotham Gazette (op-ed)

“An accurate census count is crucial to securing enough hospitals, medical facilities, doctors, nurses, and medical supplies so that we’ll never again see the kinds of shortages we are seeing today. That’s because health care providers, insurance companies, and government officials all make important decisions on where to provide resources and assistance based on census data.”


“We were sidetracked by the effort to add a citizenship question, which left a chilling effect on a number of people who still think that there is a citizenship question.”

Roll Call

“This is really uncharted, unprecedented territory for the census. I hope no one tries to use this to partisan advantage.”

The New York Times

“This could open a can of worms … It’s not inconceivable that some states might use administrative records to redistrict instead of the decennial census count.”


“There’s no-one-sized-fit-all solution. … Governors and legislatures are going to have to be creative in finding ways to comply with the law and still redistrict.”


“I’m hoping states don’t use this delay to keep themselves in power on the old lines drawn a few years ago. This is all uncharted, unprecedented. It will play out different in each state.”

Queens Eagle

“The future of the state senate, state assembly, and city council districts are all based on census population—there’s a lot at stake here.”

Teaching NYLS Students

This spring, Professor Wice taught Census 2020: Principles of Power. The virtual course gave students the opportunity to learn about census undercount problems, how the census is used for federal funding and redistricting, and how New York has mobilized in an unprecedented way to count every resident this year.

Professor Wice, who has over 40 years of experience working in redistricting, voting rights, and census law, brought influential guest speakers to the course, including U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Chair of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform.

Still Time to Complete Census 2020

It’s not too late to be counted. Complete Census 2020 online, by phone, or by mail. Get started.