The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

By Karl Terry
Local columnist 

Time's running out to fill out Census

 

September 13, 2020



Time is running out. I would tell you to get off the couch and act but in reality, you don’t even have to get off the couch to act.

I’m talking about the impending train wreck that is the 2020 Census.

With my position as executive director of the Roosevelt County Chamber I’ve been by default placed on Roosevelt County’s Complete Count Committee, the group charged with figuring out ways to motivate our fellow citizens to fill out the 2020 Census so that we are not undercounted as we suspect we have been the last few years.

That didn’t sound like too daunting a task. We would throw a few parties in the park, hand out some 2020 Census swag and get folks to respond early. Then, just as our plans were set to swing into motion, a pandemic the likes of which we haven’t seen in over a century changed everything.

No worries, the plan was for most people to respond online anyway and if they’re all home people will do just that. We came up with other plans like an online evening of concerts and giveaways to local businesses and getting essential workers to wear Census shirts on Fridays to remind people and stimulate conversation.

Somehow, people are not responding, even as easy as it is and with as much time as many of us have on our hands. Right now Roosevelt County’s self-response rate is 52.7%. Compare that with the 59.4% rate that we saw in the 2010 Census, in which experts believe we were greatly undercounted.

Curry County is better at 54% but that sounds pathetic too. Bernalillo County is running at 69.3% already 10 percent over 2010. The state of New Mexico as a whole stands at 56.5%, far below the national rate of 65.6%.

In our meetings we originally figured our greatest problem would be the population who didn’t speak English as their first language and maybe weren’t even in the country legally as being our target. We immediately found out there are other reasons.

Some apparently think a good way to lodge a protest against the government is to not fill out the Census. You might as well unholster your own pistol and shoot yourself in the foot. “I feel the federal government is taking too much in taxes so I choose to have them send all of my money elsewhere instead of getting some of it back in my own county to help educate its children, fix its roads and feed its hungry.”

Some are genuinely confused about what the 2020 Census is or why they should respond despite a literal tsunami of public service announcements on media everywhere. That’s OK, there are people willing to help and it’s really not very hard.

I guess in some cases it’s seen as a political issue, but then isn’t everything these days turned into a political issue? Folks, it was laid out in our constitution over two centuries ago and it really is benign.

Finally there are those consumed with apathy and they just don’t care to be bothered by it for 10 minutes. Your apathy will cost Roosevelt County $37,000 over the next 10 years.

With the pandemic the date to respond was originally moved back to the end of October, then like a lot of our goal posts these days it was moved to Sept. 30.

Time is wasting. Fill out your 2020 Census online at my2020census.gov or by phone at 844-330-2020 or 844-468-2020 for Spanish.

Karl Terry writes for Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at:

[email protected]

 
 

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