editorial

Everyone counts

By LAURIE STUART
Posted 9/16/20

The importance of the Census cannot be overstated. The demographic information that it collects determines who gets how much political power in Congress and in the states. The numbers steer more than …

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editorial

Everyone counts

Posted

The importance of the Census cannot be overstated. The demographic information that it collects determines who gets how much political power in Congress and in the states. The numbers steer more than a trillion dollars in federal funding for health care and hospital, road repairs and emergency response services.

On a more intimate level, Census responses affect many areas of our community life: grants for local schools, Head Start programs, teacher training and free or reduced-price lunches. Responses affect child care, job preparation and other temporary assistance programs, as well as home weatherization and grants for housing, among others. It has these effects because the count guides long-term economic decisions by governments, corporations and the business and school communities.

It forms the basis of our social services network, which is essential to our well-being as individuals and as a community. Because of all this, it is important that it be accurate and as complete as possible. Stipulated by the U.S. Constitution to count “all persons” every 10 years, it forms the basis of financial decision making for our democracy.

As of September 13 Sullivan County, NY had the second-lowest response rate in the state with only 35.5 percent of the population having been counted. In Wayne County, PA, the percentage is 47.6 percent. In Pike County, PA, the percentage is 40.6 percent.

This undercount has serious implications. More than 1.5 trillion in federal funding allocated to the states is based on the Census data. Of that money, 75 percent goes to Medicaid and Medicare.

Maintaining Medicaid and Medicare funding is especially important now as we begin to combat the long-term public health impacts of the coronavirus.

Providing accurate information on workforce and markets is essential as we rebuild our economy. The count drives federal regulation of small business loans, home mortgages and equal employment practice at a time when those monies and that equity are most needed.

Under normal circumstances, it is a herculean task. Nationwide, mailers are sent to every household encouraging residents to fill and mail back the questionnaire or to go online or call to do so. For those who don’t respond, Census workers are sent around to knock on doors and collect the information.

Historically, the count is completed by August 15. This year, in the midst of a pandemic, the Census Bureau asked for an extension until Saturday, October 31. In August the deadline for collection was moved to September 30.

What this means that there are just two weeks left for the count to be completed. This is cause for concern for us all and a call to action.

Here’s how you can help: If you haven’t registered for the Census, do so today! Spread the word. Tell others to respond. Download images to share on your social media channels; you can find some at www.2020census.gov/en/how-to-help.html. Call your local Census team and ask what help they need.

We don’t have a whole lot of time.

Act today! Our lives really do depend on it—for 10 years.

How to respond

Respond online at www.my2020census.gov. This is most easily done if you have your mailing and your unique ID. If you have not received anything from the Census Bureau yet, you can still respond online without your Census ID. Visit the online form and select “Start Questionnaire.” Below the ID field, choose the link that says, “If you do not have a Census ID, click here.”

Respond by phone by calling 844/330-2020.

Respond by mail by mailing back the paper questionnaire sent to your home.

And finally, you can respond through a visit from a Census worker; just answer the door and participate.

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