Record editorial: Reversing Summit County’s low census response rate is crucial
It’s understandable if the 2020 U.S. census hasn’t exactly been top of mind for most Summit County residents in recent weeks.
A certain public health crisis, after all, has demanded the bulk of our community’s focus.
Even so, the importance of the census has not diminished. The outcome of the decennial count is critical. The numbers will be used to decide how many representatives Utah will have in Congress, but even more significantly, it will also determine how much federal funding Summit County will receive over the next 10 years. A low response rate could mean missing out on tens of millions of dollars.
The outlook at this point, though, is troubling. So far, not nearly enough of us have participated. According to the Census Bureau, the countywide self-response rate as of Wednesday was about 28%, well under the statewide mark of 52%.
Even more concerning, there is precedent for our low response rate. Last time, in 2010, only 55% of households in the county participated in the census, falling well below the national average of 74%.
The good news, though, is this: There is still time to be counted. While Census Day was April 1, that date is not a deadline, as some people believe. Residents actually have several more months to respond (though they should do so sooner rather than later).
And — in a development that has taken on even more importance amid the coronavirus pandemic — people don’t have to wait for a census worker to knock on their door or bother returning an envelope in the mail, as the 2020 census is the first in which people can respond online.
Most residents should receive — or have already — an invitation letter from the Census Bureau with instructions about how to participate online. Those who don’t receive such a letter, such as people who get mail through a P.O. box, aren’t left out in the cold. They can go to my2020census.gov and start the process.
For many people, participating in the census takes no more than five or 10 minutes. And for those who’ve found themselves with unlimited free time during the pandemic, the task can even be done from the couch, wine glass in hand, while plowing through “Tiger King” on Netflix.
Given what is riding on the census, from congressional apportionment to the possibility of a few million more bucks in the county’s coffers, there’s little reason not to stand up — or sit down — and be counted.
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