Still time to take the census
Responses help determine federal funding amounts for local needs, congressional representation
August 27, 2020
PORTLAND, Ore. — Officials want Washington residents to know there is still time to respond to the U.S. Census — especially residents in Eastern Washington.
The count conducted every 10 years is important in that it determines congressional representation, helps with awarding billions of federal dollars to communities each year and provides information that will impact communities for years to come.
The Census helps determine how many seats in the House of Representatives each state receives. It also affects funding decisions for programs such as Medicare, Head Start, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and community development block grant funding needed for with everything from infrastructure work to non-profit assistance.
According to information from the U.S. Census 2020 organization, all residents in the 50 states and five U.S. territories are required by law to fill out the census form, which is short and include questions such as number of people living at the location, type of location (home, apartment, mobile home) along with name and family information.
Currently, 70.7 % of residents have self-responded to the Census request, well above the national rate of 64.5 %. That count is much lower in a number of Eastern Washington counties, however, counties that could face difficulty securing federal funding or risk losing elected representation due to lack of complete and accurate Census responses.
Spokane County has a self-response rate of 72.9 %, while Franklin County is at 65.5%, Whitman County at 60.4 %, Adams at 52.4% and Lincoln at 49.5%.
The Census Bureau is bound by law to protect a respondent’s answers. Under Title 13, the Bureau cannot release any identifiable information about the individual, their home or business, even to law enforcement agencies.
The law ensures private data is protected and that answers cannot be used against someone by any government agency or court. Violating Title 13 is a federal crime, punishable by prison time and/or a fine of up to $250,000.
The answers provided are used only to produce statistics. Individuals are kept anonymous, and the Census Bureau is not permitted to publicly release responses in any way that could identify anyone.
The Census can be filled out online by visiting my2020census.gov.
John McCallum can be reached at [email protected]