By Carol Vaughn —
Eastern Shore residents still have time to fill out their 2020 U. S. census questionnaire if they have not yet done so.
“It’s not too late to complete the census and we are encouraging people to go ahead and do it online at www.2020census.gov. Otherwise, enumerators are going to be coming door to door,” said Cara Burton, chairperson of the Accomack-Northampton 2020 Census Complete Count Committee.
The census can even be completed on a smartphone or on computers available at public libraries, Burton noted.
To complete the census by phone, customer service representatives are available every day from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. Eastern Time at the following numbers:
Haitian Creole: 844-477-2020
Phone numbers for other languages are listed at www.2020census.gov
The online form and telephone line are available in 13 languages.
“The reason why it’s so important is this is how federal dollars are allocated, as well as a lot of nonprofits use the census data when they are grant writing — so it is really important for the Eastern Shore to try to get the federal and private foundation money and grants, because that’s one way to help us improve,” Burton said.
The importance “has really hit home during this pandemic, because a lot of the money has been doled out based on census data from the 2010 census,” she said.
Another reason to fill out the census is for history’s sake, according to Burton. After 100 years, the data becomes available to genealogists and others for research.
“Do this also for your descendants,” she said.
Accomack and Northampton counties are lagging behind Virginia in the percent of residents who have responded to the census.
The statewide self-response rate has risen to 68.5%, but Accomack and Northampton counties are at 35.7% and 39.8%, respectively, with just a few weeks to go until the Sept. 30 deadline for completion of this phase of census taking, where individuals can self-respond.
Northampton County is beating its final response rate from the 2010 census, which was 36.3%.
Accomack County’s final response rate in 2010 was 35%, according to the website, www.2020census.gov.
Burton was working Saturday at a 2020 census booth at an event in Whitesville, with a computer and WiFi hotspot so attendees could fill out the census questionnaire on the spot.
“It would be terrific if every single person in Whitesville were counted,” she said.
Similar efforts are planned for Four Corner Plaza and in front of Jaxon’s in Parksley.
Burton said that, although some people are afraid to share personal information with the government, census data is protected by the Constitution.
“The total numbers data are shared, but not your individual numbers,” she said.
The U.S. Constitution says a census of the population must be taken every 10 years.
The 2020 census is supposed to count everyone who was living in the United States on April 1, 2020.
That includes noncitizens, people who were living in a household but have died since April 1, and young children, including newborns still in the hospital on April 1, who usually live and sleep at the home as of that date, even if they are not relatives.
The statistics will determine the number of seats each state holds in the U.S. House of Representatives and how federal funds will be allocated by state, local, and federal lawmakers every year for the next decade.
Census takers started visiting neighborhoods Aug. 9 to knock on doors of people who have not yet responded to the 2020 census.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Census Bureau has launched an advertising campaign informing the public there is still time to respond to the census online, by phone or by mail.
The advertisements are designed to reach speakers of 45 different languages.
“We are committed to a complete and accurate 2020 census. To date, 93 million households, nearly 63 percent of all households in the nation, have responded to the 2020 census. Building on our successful and innovative internet response option, the dedicated women and men of the Census Bureau, including our temporary workforce deploying in communities across the country in upcoming weeks, will work diligently to achieve an accurate count,” U.S. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham said in a prepared statement earlier this month.