Record editorial: Census prep is underway in Summit County as critical count looms
As the old adage goes, failing to plan is planning to fail.
So while federal officials are still months away from beginning to count Utahns as part of the 2020 U.S. census, it’s encouraging to see preparations to ensure each resident in Summit County is included in the tally well underway.
The Summit County Complete Count Committee, the local group tasked with prepping for the census, is in the middle of getting the word out to the municipalities, organizations and residents about the decennial count.
And it’s a good thing, too, as the significance of the census is difficult to overstate. Not only will the results determine how much federal funding the county receives in the coming decade — tens of millions of dollars are at stake — the tally will be used both to shape the state’s legislative map and to decide how many seats Utah gets in Congress.
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Last time around, in 2010, we didn’t do well enough. Only 55% of households responded to the census, a paltry figure well below the national average of 74%.
One important way officials hope to increase that number next year is by improving outreach to the hard-to-count population, which includes many people in the Latino community.
The efforts are exponentially more difficult by a resurgent anti-immigrant sentiment in our country and the Trump administration’s (unsuccessful) attempt to include a citizenship question on the census. Against that backdrop, it’s easy to see why Summit County’s Latino residents, regardless of their citizenship status, may be uneasy about providing their information to the federal government — and, in fact, experts worry ethnic minorities may be dramatically undercounted nationwide in this census.
With help from the municipalities and nonprofits that serve underrepresented people in Summit County, hopefully the committee will be able to adequately address those concerns locally.
Additionally, when the time comes, all residents must take the personal responsibility to fill out and return the census information. That’ll be easier than ever next year, as the 2020 census will be the first in which households can respond online.
On an individual level, it can be easy, of course, to take the census for granted. But with so much riding on the results, we can’t afford to be complacent, and we’re pleased officials are already working to spread that message.
The Summit County Complete Count Committee is scheduled to hold an information gathering Tuesday from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the Christian Center of Park City. For more information, visit summitcounty.org/1084/complete-count-committee or 2020census.gov.
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