Census 2020: For all to count, all must be counted

Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent | 4/1/2019, 7:46 a.m.
While every Census faces challenges and even controversies, the count remains important because it’s the federal government’s very first responsibility ...

“Census data are used to draw congressional district lines and help determine the amount of federal funding communities receive for programs like Head Start and SNAP,” Lynk said.

“Communities that are missing from the census lose out on what they need to stay safe and healthy. Unfortunately, Black people and Latinos are considered to be harder to count, and accurately counting these populations takes a focused effort,” she said.

Lynk added:

“That’s why it’s critical that local governments and community organizations educate their own constituents and members and encourage them to be counted.”

Census data are inherently personal; the data record and codify individual stories, and help to paint a mosaic of rich racial, ethnic, cultural, and geographic identities, said Jason Jurjevich, Assistant Director of the Population Research Center, a research institute in the College of Urban and Public Affairs at Portland State University in Oregon.

“Telling the story of diverse communities, including individuals of color, requires a fair and accurate count,” Jurjevich said.

“As with any census, an all too common obstacle is that some individuals are excluded, resulting in an undercount. In the 2010 Census, considered one of the most accurate censuses in recent American history, 1.5 percent of Hispanics and 2.1 percent of African-Americans were undercounted,” he said.

Jurjevich added that among African-American men, ages 30 to 49, the undercount was much higher, at 10.1 percent.

The decennial census is the one chance, every ten years, to stand up and be counted, Jurjevich added.

Also, he noted that Census 2020 will offer the first-ever online response option, which could improve census response rates and, at the same time, numerous challenges and barriers will likely make it more difficult to count Americans in the 2020 Census.

“This means that communities will need to organize and address on-the-ground challenges like the proposed citizenship question, increasing public distrust in government, growing fears among immigrants about the current sociopolitical climate, the first-ever online response option and concerns around the digital divide and security of personal data, and inconsistent and insufficient federal funding,” Jurjevich said.

Each community should first consider developing a Complete Count Committee – or CCC, he said.

“A CCC is a volunteer committee established by tribal, state, and local governments and community leaders to increase awareness of Census 2020 and increase census participation,” Jurjevich said.

The first step for CCCs is to develop a Complete Count Plan.

The plan should identify local barriers to a fair and accurate count, identifies potential sources of funding, build on the strength of trusted community voices, and develop culturally resonant messaging, Jurjevich said.

“For all to count, all must be counted,” he said.