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Time To Be Counted For 2020 Census

U.S. Census Bureau

Even with the many disruptions going on, Summit County officials are hoping that locals will remember one important task—filling out their forms for the 10-year United States Census survey.   

Summit County’s Economic Development Director Jeff Jones has been promoting the census effort.   This is the first time the census form can be submitted online.   

Jones said it’s a quick and easy process.    And there can be a lot at stake.       

“Well, every year, billions of dollars in federal funding go to hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads and other resources based on the census data.  The results of the census are also used to determine the number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives.  And they’re also used to draw up Congressional and state legislative districts.”

For the last census in 2010, Jones said the rate of response from Summit County citizens was about 55 percent.

So last fall, the county organized a “Complete Count Committee” to market the effort.   A social-media program was set up,  called “Who We Are.”

Another initiative, which was disrupted by the COVID-19 emergency, was a plan to set up kiosks around the county.     

“So we went out and identified approximately 20 locations for kiosks.   I have a pile of kiosks in my office with corresponding I-pads.  Unfortunately, this was prior to the information requiring everybody to basically stay away from each other and not congregate in large groups.   And as a result of that, we’re just waiting to deploy those kiosks.”

It’s been estimated that 25 percent of Summit County’s school population does not speak English as a primary language.

The census asks the respondent to list their race or national identity, but a controversial question about citizenship wasn’t included.    Jones noted that undocumented residents won’t face a problem if they fill out the form.   But it can still be an issue in getting cooperation from those locals.       

“And that creates a problem for us because many times when you’re working with different certain populations, there’s a level of distrust out there.  And they depend more on in-person interactions to help them understand the census, and its importance to their economic and political power.”

If you haven’t received a form in the mail, you can also find it online at “my2020census.gov”.  

Jones said if there are residents who haven’t turned in forms by the end of April, counters will be sent door-to-door.    There may be some complications in that approach, but Jones said the census visit doesn’t require physical contact.

He said the information from the 2020 census should be available next year.

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covered Summit County meetings and issues for 35 years on KPCW. He now heads the Friday Film Review team.
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