The United States Constitution mandates a count of the entire population take place once every decade.
CANTON-The United States Constitution mandates a count of the entire population take place once every decade.
The process is conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau which is part of the Department of Commerce.
It is vital each and every person be counted for a variety of reasons.
For example, data gathered is used to determine the number of representatives each state will have in Congress.
It’s also used to redistrict political maps AND the amount each state gets from various federal funding programs is tied to population determined by the official census count.
Tuesday, State Senator Dave Koehler met in Canton Mayor Kent McDowell’s office with City Clerk Diana Pavley-Rock (who is also heading up the local Canton Census Committee), committee members Paula Grigsby, Kim Bunner and Crystal Wilkinson who is also City Treasurer.
Said Pavley-Rock, “We’ve talked about the timeline as far as right now we’re using this time as kind of the outreach-making people aware of the census and that the Census Bureau is going to start mailing the postcards mid-March.”
There are multiple avenues with which folks are able to respond including good ol’ fashioned mail, computer and by phone.
If they fail to respond, someone working for the Census Bureau will come to their home.
What about those who feel as though the Census doesn’t affect or will help them in any way?
Said Koehler, “That’s probably the most important group to really have do this because programs are funded-communities like Canton receive funds based on census information. If you have a certain level of poverty that’s what is looked at in terms of funding different programs. If the only people (responding) are middle class on up then you’re not going to get anything. I think we need to stress that.”
McDowell noted the census does cover all demographics, “We have a higher population of senior citizens, so we could get some more senior services. They take the demographics as well as the population.”
“A lot of times in grants, and I know this from my days on City Council, you would give the demographics of certain census tracts. We’d say, ‘We want this program for these census tracts because this is the level of poverty, this is the number of senior citizens, this is the number of children in that census tract.’ All of that makes a difference in terms of what may comply for a program or may not,” said Koehler.
Nationwide the census makes a difference
Koehler added the census also makes a difference across the nation especially when it comes to the number of congressional seats, “We already know the Midwest and California are losing seats. Texas gains two, other states in the south gain one. As the population gets older, like me, that shift in the south gets older as the people head south to avoid winters. We do redistricting so we’ll lose one congressional seat. We’ll go from 18 to 17. That means two incumbents are going to have to run against each other in some district.”
Canton City Government isn’t based upon population.
Importance of the Census
“This is an important thing we do every 10 years and it gives you trends of how we’re doing, too. You can see if people are becoming better off or less better off or which categories,” said Koehler.
“Employed, unemployed,” added McDowell.
Continued McDowell, “The one thing we’re trying to do here, at least in this administration, is draw some more younger people over here and it’s really been my big failure so far in my term so I’m kind of anxious to see if we’ve lost or gained. It seems like we’ve gained.
Now, whether that’s on the outskirts or in town, I’m not sure. I’m kind of excited about that. I think if we are starting to gain a little bit I think that might help push some developers and contractors to cut loose a little bit of money and start looking at some subdivisions.”
What’s the Canton Census Committee doing to get the word out?
“We’re going to send out fliers to all of the different businesses. We’re really promoting all businesses to put census information on their website, social media, Facebook.
We’ve worked with Tri-County with a grant for all of the different events we’re going to be hosting.
Right now, we're getting the word out.
As we move forward, probably February, March more events and then after that we’re actually going to be having tablets available at events and going places so people on our committee will actually be going out with tablets for people to come in and to be able to do it right there.
You try to reach the hard population and that’s our goal. How do you get to the hard to reach people? Go to them,” explained Pavley-Rock.
This is the first time people have been able to participate in the census online.
“I don’t think a lot of communities are going at this as hard as Diana (Pavley-Rock) and Canton has. She’s been at the forefront hitting it hard upfront,” said McDowell.
“I think the committee is really good too because we have people from all different areas and we’ve talked about getting the youth involved. Youth is one of the hard-to-count populations so I think that might help increase that hard-to-count (demographic).
Rolf (Sivertsen Superintendent of Canton Union School District 66) has been very excited about getting involved with the schools.”
Prior to leaving the City Building, Koehler and McDowell filmed a public service announcement (PSA) promoting the upcoming census and the importance of participating.
April 1 is Census Day, a key reference date for the 2020 Census.
When completing the census, you will include everyone living in your home April 1.
The last day for households to self-respond online, by phone or mail is July 31 after which census workers will begin to visit the homes of those who have not yet completed their census.
The Census Bureau is currently hiring people in the area with pay around $17.50 per hour.
For more information about Census 2020 check out census.gov.