Photo: Matthew Sauer

Census Deadline Reprieve

Posted on September 28, 2020 by Matthew Sauer, Herald-Tribune Media Group
We have gotten a reprieve on the census, but our communities need to throw in to make it count during the next month.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in the Northern District of California issued a preliminary injunction that requires the Census Bureau to keep trying to tally the country's residents through Oct. 31.

The U.S. Department of Justice will undoubtedly challenge the injunction, but for now, we should all be operating like the census will continue to be in play for another month.

That gives all of us who haven't complied more than a month to get with the program ... on a program ... that is critical to not only huge buckets of federal money but also determining who some of our representatives are.

The reasons for the cutting short of the once-in-10-years counting of our population are baffling, but then again, there are many puzzling things these days.

I would rather present some cold, hard facts.

States that have a terrific response to the census are not exactly national powerhouses like Florida. The very best performance as of late last week:
  • West Virginia (99.9%)
  • Idaho (99.8%)
  • Maine (99.7%)
  • Hawaii (99.7%)
  • Vermont (99.4%)
The Census Bureau is pegging Florida's response rate at 96.2%, well ahead of where it was recently, but perhaps an optimistic appraisal – and it almost certainly is in terms of accuracy, given some other numbers I'm going to share with you.

The counties in our region are still substantially below the rate.

Sarasota County leads the pack at 65.1%. Manatee County is at 59.1% with this additional four weeks of possibility before us.

Charlotte County, meanwhile, stood at 63.4%, and DeSoto remains at 46.9%.

Clearly, we have more work to do, and now we have some more time to do it.

The Herald-Tribune has been working with The Patterson Foundation since pre-COVID-19 on this effort. If you need testimonials or just general how-tos or just some inspiration to help encourage your friends to get involved, go to thepattersonfoundation.org/census-education.html.

Other entities also have thrown in to push our communities over the hill. I got a reach-out this past week from the gifted Anand Pallegar, whose atLarge, Dreamlarge, and The Bay have joined together with what they describe as a broad community coalition to encourage everyone in Sarasota to complete the census questionnaire by Sept. 30.

The help is appreciated.

Folks can still complete the census online at 2020census.gov. It's 10 minutes of questions, and none of them are regarding delicate subject matter.

You can also still respond by phone 844-330-2020, and you can see the questions that will be asked in advance. This option also is found at 2020census.gov.

Remember, we just got a reprieve to complete a simple task that will shape our community for years to come – more than ten to be precise, until the next census.

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