Hansi Lo Wang

Updated June 9, 2021 at 10:10 AM ET

As the country waits for more results from last year's national head count, the U.S. Census Bureau is facing an increasingly tricky balancing act.

How will the largest public data source in the United States continue to protect people's privacy while also sharing the detailed demographic information used for redrawing voting districts, guiding federal funding, and informing policymaking and research for the next decade?

This week, Minnesota's state demographer finally got the numbers she's spent years waiting for.

"I didn't expect to be as nervous as I eventually was as they were unveiling these numbers," says Susan Brower, who was among those glued to the Census Bureau's livestream about the first set of 2020 census results that determine how many seats in Congress and votes in the Electoral College each state gets for the next decade.

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NOEL KING, HOST:

The first results of the 2020 census finally came out yesterday. They told us which states gained or lost seats in Congress, and there was some unexpected news.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Tens of thousands of U.S. service members who were temporarily deployed abroad last year could help shift the balance of power in Congress and the Electoral College toward states with military installations after the release of 2020 census results.

Approximately 97,000 troops were serving stints overseas on Census Day — April 1, 2020 — Pentagon spokesperson Lisa Lawrence tells NPR. And for last year's national tally, the Census Bureau followed a new policy that counted those deployed troops as residents of the areas from which they were assigned away.

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