2020 census discussed at Sidney Rotary meeting

SIDNEY—United States Census Bureau Partnership Specialist Mark S. Boyd spoke to the members of the Sidney Rotary Club at their weekly meeting July 1. The meeting was held at the Sidney American Legion Hall. Boyd discussed the 2020 Decennial Census, and why an accurate count is important.

“Shelby County has already formed a Complete Count Committee,” Boyd stated, “and as a result, local leaders already know the importance of making certain that every person living in Shelby County is counted.”

“If you take away just three things from my presentation,” Boyd told the Rotarians, “those three things should be: 1) everyone living in the United States needs to be counted once, and only once; 2) everyone needs to be counted in the right place; and, 3) the results of the census are used to determine how many seats each state has in the House of Representatives.”

“Since 1790, a decennial census has been conducted in the United States,” Boyd continued. “United States Marshalls were paid $1.00 for every fifty people they counted.”

“Every ten years since, even in wartime, the U.S. Census Bureau has conducted a census — a count of all the people living in the country. The census is a basic requirement under the U.S. Constitution that requires the government to count everyone — whether adult or child, citizen or noncitizen,” Boyd stated.

“The census count not only determines how many seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives,” Boyd said. “In fact, the United States was the first country in the world to use the census to apportion political power.”

“The census count also affects how and where federal, state, and local governments allocate funds for, among other things, education, social services, and infrastructure,” Boyd explained. “In fact, more than $675B in federal funds, grants and other support to states, counties and municipalities is based on census data. That’s a loss of more than $1,800 per year per person missed in funds that could be coming to your community.”

Boyd pointed out that census data is used for all kinds of useful purposes. Real estate developers use census data to determine where new homes should be constructed and where it makes sense to revitalize existing neighborhoods. Local governments use census data for public safety and emergency preparedness. Businesses use census data to decide where to build factories, offices and stores.

Boyd also explained that the 2020 census will be the first in which those living in the United States can respond online. “Every household will have the option of responding online, by mail, or over the phone,” Boyd stated.

“Ninety-five percent of households will receive their census invitation in the mail,” Boyd said. About 5% of households will receive their census invitation when a census worker drops it off. That would include residents who use a Post Office box and areas recently affected by natural disasters. Less than 1% of households will be counted in person by a census taker. In-person counting is done in very remote areas including parts of northern Maine, parts of Alaska, and on some American Indian reservations.”

“Most areas of the country will respond online,” Boyd told Rotarians, “so most households will receive a letter asking the recipient to go online to complete the census questionnaire. We plan on working with the US Postal Service to stagger delivery of the letters between March 12-20, 2020. In that way, we can spread out the number of users trying to use the system at the same time. In addition, we’ll be better able to help those who telephone to ask questions.”

For those who have not responded by March 24, reminder post cards will be sent. If the recipient has not responded by April 3, a reminder letter and paper questionnaire will be mailed. A final postcard reminder will be sent after April 20 and if there is still no response, a census worker will come to the door for all households that do not respond.

“Citizens need to understand that the law requires that all information obtained by the US Census Bureau remains confidential,” Boyd advised. “There are no exceptions. By law, your responses cannot be used against you by any government agency or court in any way. The Census Bureau cannot share an individual’s responses with immigration enforcement agencies, law enforcement agencies, or allow any information obtained to be used to determine eligibility for government benefits.”

“I’ve spoken to several Rotary Clubs,” Boyd told the Rotarians prior to his formal presentation, “but this is the first club that began the meeting with live entertainment and Happy Bucks.”

The Rotary Club of Sidney meets every Monday at noon at the Moose Lodge, 1265 North Fourth Avenue, Sidney. Potential Rotarians who would like more information about potential membership in the world’s oldest service organization are encouraged to contact any current member.