CIRCLEVILLE — It’s nearly time to stand up and be counted by the federal government.
The United States Census will take place and members of the United States Census Bureau have visited Pickaway County to share the importance of an accurate count.
Mark Boyd, partnership specialist with the Philadelphia Regional Census Center, of which Ohio is a part, spoke at City Council this week to share the Census Bureau’s goals for the count in addition to why it matters for people to report.
Boyd said the census is the largest peacetime operation that the federal government undertakes.
“The goal is to count everyone once, only once, and in the right place,” he said.
Boyd said the census is important because it determines the number of representatives for each state, how federal money is divided up that comes back to the states and local government and it helps with planning. States also use the census data for redistricting purposes and school district boundaries.
“The data helps us with decision making, problem solving, problem prediction, and problem anticipation,” he said.
To report, Boyd said there would be an Internet self response period, which would be followed by mailed response forms and then any addresses that do not respond, may receive a visit from a census taker.
“If you can’t do it online then you can still do it by paper or by telephone,” he said. “We’re hoping most people do it online.”
Boyd gave a brief history on the census, saying the U.S. Census was the first to divvy up political power among the states in the House of Representatives.
“I think that is something to be very proud of,” he said. “It was under the direction of Thomas Jefferson, who was then secretary of state, where federal marshals went on horseback and counted population which was a little less than 4 million.”
Boyd said Ohio would likely change again from the 16 representatives it has now due to larger growth in other areas of the country. Ohio, he said, is projected to loose one representative.
“We may loose another seat after the 2020 census, that’s not because there’s not growth in Ohio, it’s because other areas, like the South, are growing much faster.
Council member Tom Spring asked Boyd about what questions would be on the census and if they have been finalized. Spring asked specifically about household income, which Boyd said is not a question on the census.
“Most of them, except for the citizenship question, have been approved,” he said. “The citizenship question has been heard in the Supreme Court and we’re just waiting on their decision.”
Boyd also asked council to consider creating a Complete Count Committee (CCC) to help make sure everyone is counted since locals know how to reach their neighbors and fellow community members by overcoming obstacles to the census.
“A CCC is a volunteer committee of influential leaders and trusted voices of a cross section of the community who understand the critical importance of the census and are charged with facilitating the most complete and accurate census possible,” he said. “People are more likely to listen to a trusted community leader than they are to me, someone in Philadelphia or someone in Washington D.C. You speak the language and know the community.”