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Stand up and be counted

Posted 3/6/20

We hope by now that most people have heard about the 2020 Census and the efforts underway locally to encourage a big response.

Taking place every 10 years, the census aims to count every person …

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Stand up and be counted

Posted

We hope by now that most people have heard about the 2020 Census and the efforts underway locally to encourage a big response.

Taking place every 10 years, the census aims to count every person living in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories. The Sullivan County Complete Count Commission was formed to ensure that we're accurately represented in the 2020 census.

This is a mission of great importance. The census not only tallies our population but determines our political representation on the state and federal levels. Census data also helps determine how much state and federal aid we see in our communities for things like roads, public works, schools, and for social service programs like WIC and SNAP.

Historically, New York State's congressional delegation has shrunk every decade since 1953 when it was at a high of 45 members. Today the state has 27. A strong count would stave off further diminishment. Businesses also look at Census data when making decisions on where to locate.

According to the Rockefeller Institute of Government, Sullivan County was ranked second to last in the 2010 census response rates in the state, at 69.5 percent. When it comes to our health ranking from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and our Census response rate, we're tired of Sullivan County's low rankings. It's within our power to improve these numbers and everyone can be part of the effort to ensure we're not undercounted. Especially since populations that are hardest to count also tend to be the most at risk and in need of the funding that Census counts influence.

Beginning on March 12 next week, census invitations will begin arriving in mailboxes. The 2020 Census is very different from past years. It's the first time in which people are allowed to complete it online. This could be a challenge considering that 20 percent of homes in Sullivan County do not have access to broadband internet. To address this concern, libraries will provide free access to computers and Wi-Fi. There will also be options to complete a printed form, or to answer the Census questions by phone, but most people will get a mailing asking them to complete the survey online.

“Our voices and our wallets are at serious risk if we do not participate, and we are confident that this information will not be misused or otherwise compromise our privacy and safety,” said Sullivan County Director of Communications Dan Hust. “Participating in the Census benefits you, your neighbors, your family, your friends and your bottom line.”

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