Shift to digital census raises fear of Iowa-like breakdown

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Steven Dillingham

FILE – In this Feb. 12, 2020, file photo, U.S. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham testifies during a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, on Capitol Hill in Washington. The bureau says it has developed two secure data-collection systems, so that if one goes down during the census count, the other can substitute. Other mechanisms are in place to prevent failure and backup plans in case the worst happens. “All systems are go,” Dillingham said. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – Some observers worry that this year’s census carries the same potential for mayhem as last month’s Iowa caucuses, except on an infinitely larger scale.

Both events involve a large population, new technology that has not been thoroughly tested and an entire country waiting on the results. This is the first once-a-decade census in which most people are being encouraged to answer questions via the internet.

Census workers who knock on the doors of homes will use smartphones and a new mobile app to relay answers. Some watchdog agencies and lawmakers are concerned about whether the systems are ready for prime time.

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