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A lot of things have stopped or paused because of the new coronavirus. Eating together in restaurants. Going to the movies. Social gatherings.
But one absolutely essential thing hasn’t stopped, and is indeed more important than ever: The 2020 U.S. Census. The constitutionally mandated count of every single person in the United States is going on right this very moment, and it will shape our lives for the next decade at least.
In other words, once this pandemic has faded into memory, the effects of the 2020 Census will still be with us.
Why? The Census determines congressional representation, for one thing. U.S. House members are allotted to states based on their population. It also directs federal funds to various states and localities, again based on population.
As the Census initiative Kansas Counts notes: “If 1% of the Kansas population is uncounted in the 2020 Census, the state of Kansas could miss receiving approximately $603,990,400 in federal funding over a 10-year period.”
You should have already received multiple mailings from the Census Bureau. They direct you to a simple online portal where you can enter basic demographic information about you and your household. No Social Security Numbers are required or collected. The information is entirely confidential, by statute. No internet connection? No problem. You can also complete the Census through the phone or by mail.
The entire process should take less than five minutes. And you can feel proud of the fact you’ve stepped up to do your civic duty.
The official Census Day is April 1. That’s the date reflected in the legal count, and it also serves as the unofficial deadline for getting in your responses. Census workers then fan out into communities to make sure everyone has been included.
The pandemic has complicated operations this year, delaying field work and extending some deadlines. But while we’re all at home, and with many of us searching for extra activities to fill the day, why not complete the Census and save some poor worker the time of trying to track you down?
According to ABC News, “Midwestern states — Nebraska, Iowa and Kansas — had the highest response rates in the first week or so that most of the U.S. was able to start taking the census.”
We should be proud of that. But we should be able to show Nebraska and Iowa that no one loves to be counted more than Kansans.
Let’s step up and make sure that every single person in this state counts. Not just on April 1, but for the next decade.