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2020 Census Update: The Great Debate and Response Rates

Over 57 million people tuned in for the 2020 Vice Presidential Debate with U.S. Senator Kamala Harris and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, on Wednesday, Oct. 7. Sitting at desks with clear plexiglass dividers and appropriately social-distanced, the candidates’ performance was demonstrably civil in comparison to the first, and possibly only, 2020 U.S. Presidential Debate.

Candidate Kamala Harris, the junior U.S. Senator from California, was born on October 20, 1964. She joined Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. before graduating from Howard University with a Bachelor’s degree in political science and economics. In 1989, she graduated from the Hastings College of the Law at the University of California. In 2003, she was elected District Attorney of San Francisco, then elected Attorney General of California in 2010, and re-elected in 2014. In the 2016, Harris became the second African American woman and the first South Asian American to serve in the U.S. Senate. During the 2020 Democratic National Convention, she accepted the historic nomination to be the first female vice presidential candidate of color on a major party ticket.

Candidate Mike Pence was born on June 7, 1959. He joined the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity before graduating from Hanover College with a Bachelor’s degree in history. In 1986, he graduated from the Robert H. McKinney School of Law at Indiana University. Pence served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 2001 to 2013, as the Governor of Indiana from 2013 to 2017, and currently serves as the Vice President of the United States. He accepted the nomination to be President Trump’s running mate during the 2020 Republican National Convention.

During the debate, each candidate responded to questions on topics ranging from the Trump Administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy, social justice, systemic racism, foreign affairs, and the U.S. Supreme Court. Some observed that Pence repeatedly interrupted Harris. Others believed that neither candidate directly answered any questions. With 30 states reporting that over 9 million ballots have been cast, it is difficult to confirm whether the debate influenced undecided voters.

With less than 25 days before the general election, local officials are bracing for record turnout leading up to, and on, November 3. If Census 2020 Response Rates are used as an indicator, then a tsunami of voters is building.

For Westchester County, over 70% of its 43 municipalities exceeded their Census 2010 and 2000 Response Rate. The County’s higher counts for Census 2020 have happened despite challenges from the coronavirus and confusion over the Oct. 31 deadline.

Westchester has a few more weeks to ensure residents are counted by phone (1-844-330-2020/English and (844) 468-2020/Spanish), the Internet (, or by returning Census forms via mail.

Census results shape the future of legislative representation and how billions of dollars in federal funds are distributed locally.

Participating in the Census 2020 is not up for debate. Join the count!


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