Along with concerns about the US Postal Service, many Americans are equally agitated about changes to the timeline for accomplishing the 2020 Census. On August 17 the Census Bureau released its plan for completing the count by September 30.
This date has been advanced from the earlier deadline of October 31, giving Census workers even less time to “count noses” and get an accurate picture of the US population.
On August 11, a bipartisan group of 18 US Senators sent a letter to the leaders of the House and Senate (Senators McConnell and Schumer and Representatives Pelosi and McCarthy), voicing their concerns about shortening the “enumeration” period from October 31, 2020, to September 30.
In Bedford, the response rate to the Census is a commendable 78.9 % (up from 71.8 % as reported in The Citizen on May 9) but this still means that 20 % of Bedford isn’t yet included in the count. And the days are now dwindling down with little more than five weeks before the count ends.
On August 11, the Census Bureau announced it has begun following up in person with all households across the country that have not yet responded to the 2020 Census. “Non-Response Follow Up is one key way the Census Bureau is working to meet its goal of counting everyone once, only once and in the right place,” according to the announcement.
Field agents are contacting households in Bedford, Census Bureau Media Strategist Keith Goralski told The Citizen. Workers are properly masked and wear identifying badges. One resident confirmed to The Citizen that she had been contacted by a worker who first telephoned, then knocked on her door. In this instance, the resident had already filled out her form. The Bureau says that those who respond will not need to be visited although a small percentage will be contacted to confirm response information already gathered.
Why is An Accurate Count Important to Bedford?
There is a lot riding on the population count; it’s not a theoretical, “nice to know” exercise. Here are key areas where the information collected will shape the future of Bedford and Massachusetts.
- Apportionment – Population counts are used to reapportion seats in the US House of Representatives. After the 2020 Census, it’s likely that the southern and western states will pick up seats and New England states like MA will lose a seat or two.
- Redistricting – State and local officials use Census results to help redraw congressional, state, and local district boundaries to contain roughly equal numbers of people to ensure each person’s voting power is closely equivalent (the one-person, one-vote rule.)
- Money to states and local communities – the numbers from the 2020 Census will help determine how much funding Bedford (and all state and local governments) receive from the federal government for health, housing, education, and infrastructure programs. Think Medicaid, The National School Lunch Program, Head Start, the national highway program, to name a few.
- Planning –Data from the 2020 Census will be used by governments and nonprofit organizations to determine the need for new roads, hospitals, schools, and other public sector investments.
- Emergency response – important in this time of pandemic! Demographic details from the Census help epidemiologists and public health personnel track disease outbreaks. First responders and disaster response personnel use the data to determine where help is needed in a disaster.
- Planning – The 2020 Census will be the basis for a host of other federal surveys, such as annual population and housing unit estimates.
Make Sure your Household is Counted
Bedford’s completion record is good but there are still individuals in town who have not been counted. Churches and civic associations are urging their members to complete the Census. If you have a neighbor whose first language is not English, you could be of help. The form is available in many languages and citizenship is NOT a question on the form. Census data are confidential and are not shared with other government agencies, such as ICE.
Households can still respond now by completing and mailing back the paper questionnaire they received, by responding online at 2020census.gov, or by phone at 844-330-2020.
Time is running out and every person counts!