2020 Census – Please Participate!

Special in The Newport Minor

2020 is already a year for the history books. While the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus have been front and center worldwide, Americans are also in the middle of partaking in our once-in-a-decade constitutional duty: the 2020 Census.

The United States Constitution mandates that the country conduct a count of its population once every 10 years. The 2020 Census will mark the 24th time that the country has counted its population since 1790. The census counts every person living in the 50 states, District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories. This year, for the first time, participants can respond online, by mail or by phone.

Some of you may be asking why it’s so important for you to participate. The results of this count determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives. They are also used to draw congressional and state legislative districts. Currently, King County has a higher participation rate than many counties in Eastern Washington. If this trend continues, they will get more power in our State Legislature. Eastern Washington districts could lose their voice in Olympia if we do not all participate in this year’s census.

Additionally, census results will inform how federal funding is allocated to more than 100 programs, including Medicaid, Head Start, and block grants for community mental health services, to name a few. The results will also determine funding for hospitals, fire departments and other critical infrastructure, programs and services in our communities. It is important that these funds go to programs in our local communities as they come from the tax dollars we have paid to the federal government. If we are not represented, we will see these funds go to other communities.

By now, you should have received an invitation to participate in this year’s census by mail. One challenge for residents who use a Post Office Box can be that they may not have received their form to participate. If a census form has not landed in your mailbox, you can contact the Census Bureau by calling 844-330-2020 or going online to www.2020census.gov. Right now, census workers are beginning to head out into the field, knocking on doors to ensure everyone participates. If you do not wish to have a census taker visit your home and haven’t already responded, be sure to reply to the Census Bureau with your information. I know these are trying times, but please take 10 minutes to respond. Please ensure your communities aren’t left behind and join me in taking part in our constitutional duty.

Senator Shelly Short (R-Addy) serves as the Republican Floor Leader and the Ranking Republican on the Senate Local Government Committee.