This year, the Census Bureau is making preparations to complete the huge task of counting everyone in the U.S. The population is now over 330 million people. Interest groups had just begun to seriously push people to complete census forms and be counted.
Census results decide the allocation of congressional seats and monetary resources.
People in the U.S. must be counted every 10 years. The census count is mandated in the U.S. Constitution and has been going on every ten years for over 230 years. But the limitations on mobility and personal contact mandated on the national and state levels because of the deadly coronavirus have now shifted years of planning.
Almost 40 percent of U.S. households have responded online to the census since March 10. In 2010, over 98 percent of households that were sent census forms were recorded. But minorities and children were undercounted and 16 million people missed being counted.
Mail service continues and now advocates are doing what they can to encourage people to fill out census forms knowing so many Americans are in their homes and not at work. Those who do not fill out the 12-question form will be reminded with postcards. On May 27, over 500,000 census takers are scheduled to begin tracking down people who don’t fill the forms out. Federal law mandates that people must respond to the census though no one has been fined for not responding since the 1970s.
The Census Bureau is pushing to get people to respond early because tracking down those who don’t respond is expensive and made more difficult because of COVID-19.
“The truth is, there are so many within this nation who are disenfranchised from receiving adequate and affordable care due to socio-economic circumstances,” said NAACP President Derrick Johnson. “This virus will have dire consequences on so many, but specifically African-Americans, who suffer from higher rates of chronic illness. When the administration is not working for communities, those communities can suffer. We want to make sure to get the information out to our communities as much as possible,” Johnson concluded.
“We cannot forget about the census. The majority of young people across the country do not remember the other censuses that were conducted throughout their lifetimes, because the census is held every 10 years. Many weren’t old enough to participate in the last one. For the first time in our lives, we will be filling them out for our own households and ensuring that we are counted in our communities,” noted an article in Crisis magazine.
April 1 was Census Day and advocates redoubled their push to get as many people to fill out census forms. Whether COVID-19 will affect the count will not be known until June.
Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist for NNPA and the host of the podcast BURKEFILE. She is also a political strategist as Principal of Win Digital Media LLC. She may be contacted at LBurke007@gmail.com and on Twitter @LVBurke