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Here's a New Thing to Worry About: Census Hackers

Why national security experts want some answers as the Census Bureau prepares for its first electronic count in 2020.
The Villages, a retirement community in central Florida, is one of the fastest-growing places in the country, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The Villages, a retirement community in central Florida, is one of the fastest-growing places in the country, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.Carlo Allegri/Reuters

The U.S. is planning an experiment in democracy: The 2020 census will be the first in the nation’s history to be conducted electronically. The Census Bureau expects more households than not to participate in the process online using computers and even smartphones.

By ditching paper questionnaires, the bureau hopes to cut costs, streamline operations, and modernize the constitutionally mandated decennial count. But the decision to go from analog to digital couldn’t come at a worse time. Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election has raised root-level questions about the government’s readiness (and willingness) to shore up its cybersecurity protocols ahead of the midterms.