Everyone counts in the census

But it’s speeding rapidly to the finish, and there’s a lot at stake

By ANNEMARIE SCHUETZ
Posted 8/12/20

MONTICELLO, NY — The census deadline is Wednesday, September 30. 

Yes, you need to respond. Yes, you have to do your duty. Yes, it’s required by law. 

No, you will not be …

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Everyone counts in the census

But it’s speeding rapidly to the finish, and there’s a lot at stake

Posted

MONTICELLO, NY — The census deadline is Wednesday, September 30. 

Yes, you need to respond. Yes, you have to do your duty. Yes, it’s required by law. 

No, you will not be asked if you’re a citizen. 

Yes, you can learn what happens to your data, just visit www.2020census.gov. 

Why does it matter? “The national headcount determines representation,” said Saraid Gonzalez, census coordinator for the Sullivan County Complete Count Committee. The more people in a state, the more representatives it has in Congress.

And there are federal dollars at stake. “We will lose $1,400 to $1,800 per (uncounted) person every year for 10 years,” Gonzalez said. Your census reply helps pay for public services. 

The office is scheduled to complete its work on September 30. “We’re gearing up for a two-month push,” Freda Eisenberg, chair of the county’s Complete Count Committee, told legislators on August 6. 

Sullivan County is ranked 61 out of 62 in the state for its low response rate. “Number 60 is five points ahead of us,” Eisenberg said. 

But getting hesitant people to answer is a challenge, hence the arrival of the census takers who will be personally visiting the uncounted starting August 11. 

Answering census questions seems easy, but the reasons why people don’t can be profound and hard to overcome. “We are in a time when there is great distrust in the government and great concern over who we should give our data to and what they will do with it when they have it,” said Gonzalez. “These concerns are not new, but they feel heightened these days.”

Undocumented and immigrant workers are understandably worried. “Although the Trump administration was not successful in its effort to include a question about citizenship, the media coverage about the extended battle to include the question has planted seeds of doubt among immigrant populations and others,” Gonzalez said. “Undoing that damage will be difficult.”

But they have a plan. Gonzalez and Eisenberg are reaching out to undocumented workers. This includes “educating immigrants about how census data are used, in their native languages, and sharing information through trusted community members, organizations and churches serving undocumented immigrants,” Gonzalez said. 

Sending flyers, emails or texts by trusted people and organizations is invaluable, Gonzales said. It ensures that accurate information gets out. They’re also identifying “community leaders who speak other languages, who can assist with outreach to the Muslim, Indian, Korean and Russian communities,” she added.

Answering the census questions matters. Plus, says Gonzalez, “It’s our civic duty.”

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