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How will the 2020 census undercount affect Nevada?

Census On the Move
AP Photo/Joe Cavaretta, File

FILE - In this Feb. 9, 2005, file photo, shows the suburbs of Las Vegas from atop the Stratosphere tower looking west down Sahara Ave. towards the Spring Mountains.

The 2020 U.S. census counted Nevada among the fastest growing states over the previous 10 years. It’s also said its the third most diverse state.

Now we find out that data may be flawed.

The Census Bureau said last week that the 2020 count failed to identify millions of Hispanic, Black and Native Americans living in the U.S. At the same time, it overrepresented the number of white and Asian citizens.

They had several excuses for why it happened: The pandemic delayed the headcount, political interference from the Trump Administration created confusion, and floods, hurricanes and wildfires displaced hundreds of thousands of people.

"Just getting the job was difficult in itself, because there were so many issues because everything was closed down," said Yvette Fernandez, who worked in the Bay Area as an ennumerator during the 2020 census.

"What I found, actually, which was more problematic, was that many people tried to politicize it even then ... I think we're starting to see that a little bit more, where almost everything becomes much more politicized," she said.

Emily Persaud-Zamora, the executive director for Silver State Voices, said she "wasn't surprised at all" that the census was erroneously counted. 

The undercount in 2020 could affect multiple state programs.

"Particular programs that we could be talking about, that would be drastically affected, would be WIC, SNAP, Medicaid. Those particular programs are all ones that receive a lot of federal funding. For example, in 2016, Nevada received over $6 billion for a total of 65, federal programs, all of that based on showing the numbers from the 2010 census," she said.

"We need to have the full landscape of who was living in our state, who was living in our country, when we're tying it back to the programs. We need to have a good accurate count."

Yvette Fernandez, announcer/reporter, KNPR; Emily Persaud-Zamora, executive director, Silver State Voices

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Paul serves as KNPR's producer and reporter in Northern Nevada. Based in Reno, Paul specializes in covering state government and the legislature.