Census participation urged during pandemic

From the McAlester News-Capital

Disruptions and distractions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic must not be allowed to keep Oklahomans from participating in the Census.

There is too much at stake for the entire decade ahead of us. The situation seems to be changing daily, as libraries continue to be closed and Extension offices move their services online, places where people typically find help.

The formal launch of the centennial head count launched April 1 modifications to the census schedule due to COVID-19 have been made. Due to the risks associated with the pandemic, the self-response phase for all United States residents has been extended to August 14th and the process is available through mail or online. With the majority of Oklahomans being in isolation, it is a great time to make your household count.

Census takers must fulfill our constitutional obligation to deliver the 2020 Census counts to the President of the United States on schedule and adhere to the core task of counting everyone once, only once, and in the right place.

The agency sent out millions of mailers asking people to submit forms online, by mail or by phone. The primary online portal can be found at https://2020census.gov/en/ways-to-respond with instructions for alternative modes.

“We’re going through a pretty difficult time right now, so it’s imperative that everyone help out,” said Josh McGoldrick, spokesman for the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. “We will work through the virus, but what happens with the census is going to impact us for the next 10 years.”

The census is vital to American democracy. Results are used to allocate legislators in the U.S. House of Representatives, which also determines the makeup of the Electoral College for presidential elections.

Census data also determines federal spending budgets. In fiscal year 2017, for example, more than 300 federal programs depended on the survey to distribute $1.5 trillion to state and local governments, as well as nonprofit organizations and businesses. When U.S. residents can’t be accounted for, their communities’ share of money is distributed elsewhere.

McGoldrick said that cost to Oklahomans is about $1,500 annually per missed survey multiplied over 10 years. He also stressed the need for rural residents to step up their efforts.

Rachel Lockwood is the Family Consumer Science Extension Educator with Pittsburg County OSU Cooperative Extension Service. For more information related to this topic or related FCS programs contact Rachel at 918-423-4120, email  or on Pittsburg County OSU Website http://oces.okstate.edu/pittsburg/ or find Pittsburg County OSU Extension Center or Pittsburg County OHCE on Facebook.

Oklahoma State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, State and Local governments cooperating. Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of age, race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity, national origin, disability, protected veteran status, or any other legally protected status and is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

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I counted!

The Census determines how much funding and services our towns and cities receive each year for the next decade. Everyone counts. And I just did.

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