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Galvin Says He'll Sue If Trump Administration Skews Massachusetts' Census Count

Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin.
Steph Solis
Masslive / Masslive.com
Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin.

The Massachusetts secretary of state said he's concerned the Trump administration has sabotaged the census for political reasons.

Secretary of State William Galvin acknowledged the pandemic made counting every person challenging, but instead of compensating for that, he said the Trump administration needlessly rushed the process.

"Our concerns are that in their effort to shortchange the process and states that they don't like —Massachusetts clearly is one of them — that they were going to somehow tamper with the numbers," Galvin said. 

Galvin said Massachusetts was working on reaching "low-response" areas, including parts of Springfield, before the census was cut short in September.

As the state's liaison to the census, Galvin said he heard from workers who claimed they were told to lie about how many households they visited.

Galvin said Massachusetts has about 6.8 million residents  — as the Census Bureau itself estimated in the summer — and he's been gathering documentation to prove that, including records of college students who were sent home during the pandemic.

If the final count for Massachusetts comes in suspiciously low, Galvin said he's prepared to sue.

"I'd only bring a lawsuit if something bad happened," he said. "I mean, I don't want to bring a lawsuit. I'm not interested in that. I'm interested in getting a fair and accurate count for Massachusetts, period."

A low count means the state could lose a congressional seat, most likely in western Massachusetts, according to Galvin. That's because the state would go from nine to eight seats in the U.S. House.

"The fact is that west of Worcester, you wouldn't have enough population to draw two seats," Galvin said. "There just isn't enough, under any calculation."

A low census count could also reduce the federal money Massachusetts gets for transportation, public health and education.

Calls to the offices of two congressmen representing western Massachusetts — Richard Neal and Jim McGovern — were not returned.

It's not clear whether the census numbers will be released before Trump leaves office, but Galvin said problems in the count may not be rectified even with a new administration. And the next chance at fixing the count won't happen for another decade.

In a statement sent to the Boston Globe, the Census Bureau said it is correcting any issues that could affect the accuracy of the data.

Karen is a radio and print journalist who focuses on health care, mental health, children’s issues, and other topics about the human condition. She has been a full-time radio reporter for NEPM since 1998. Her features and documentaries have won a number of national awards, including the National Edward R. Murrow Award, Public Radio News Directors, Inc. (PRNDI) Award, Third Coast Audio Festival Award, and the Daniel Schorr Journalism Prize.
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