Every 10 years, states gather census data in order to determine redistricting guidelines as well as funding for schools, roads, health infrastructure and more.
Census 2020 operations have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and even with a four-month deadline extension, only 65.2% of Greene County residents had completed their census as of May 20, according to Stanardsville Supervisor Bill Martin, chairman, Greene County Board of Supervisors.
“The results of the census will be used to show where new infrastructure like roads, schools and health clinics are needed,” Martin said. “The census results will also help businesses and legislators make investment decisions that are tailored to the characteristics of our county, district and state. Importantly, the census data is used to make decisions on federal funding for schools, Head Start and mental health services.”
In a normal census year, those who did not complete their online or phone census forms would be contacted by field representatives in an attempt to collect the necessary data. However, with the ongoing pandemic crisis, in-person census data collection has been impossible with current health and safety guidelines. The Census Bureau has proposed extending the response period for the 2020 census to Oct. 31, giving the states until mid-2021 to deliver final numbers.
“The data collection process has been extended into 2021 and will include mailings to residents who have not yet responded,” Martin said. “It is my understanding that Greene County is close to a 65% response rate, keeping pace with the rate at the state level. An on-line response is quick and easy but there are also opportunities to respond by mail. I encourage my Greene County neighbors to go to 2020census.gov to respond, to get questions answered, or to learn more about why the census exercise is so important.”
Delays in data gathering could impact elections in the next two years due to the necessary redistricting adjustments which would have been expected by January 2021 but now may not be completed until July or later. Scheduled primary elections for state legislators in 2021 would now take place before the data is completed and redistricting will not yet have taken place.
“I recently learned that each citizen who answers the brief census questionnaire leads to an additional $2,000 in federal funding,” Martin said, “so I do encourage my Greene County neighbors to fill out the brief questionnaire. It takes less than 3 minutes and leads to a stronger Greene County and commonwealth of Virginia.”
You can complete the 2020 census online at 2020census.gov and also find information about responding via phone or mail or in languages other than English. Information on response rates as compared to previous census years and other initial data findings are available at censushardtocountmaps2020.us.