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OPINION

Palmesano seeks help from residents to complete census count

Phil Palmesano
N.Y. Assemblyman

The upcoming election is not the only important opportunity for Americans to fulfill their civic obligations and participate in government. It might not generate as many headlines, but the Census is an extremely important process that carries more ramifications for our nation than simply having an accurate count of our population.

Assemblyman Phil Palmesano

Every 10 years, the Census is disseminated to every American household. Completion of the comprehensive form results in congressional redistricting and distribution of $675 billion of federal funding. For individuals, this means potential increases in money for schools, hospitals, job programs and the like. For rural areas with small populations, accurate representation by way of the Census could especially affect everyday life.

Census participation is important and I would strongly like to encourage everyone to take the time to fill out the 2020 Census. Every household should have received an invitation by mail by April 1 of this year, with the option to respond online, by phone or by mail. If your household has yet to respond, Census workers may be showing up at your doorstep to collect information.

The whole Census process is simple for those that respond. However, things begin to get hairy when you factor in the coronavirus. Deployment of Census workers was delayed, and Americans seem to be less willing to answer their doors. Not to mention the Census Bureau will conclude its counting efforts a whole month early, in September rather than October.

Recently, it was reported that the average response rate for the Census is 62.1% across the country. So far, 58.9% of Steuben County residents, 48.2% of Yates County residents, 54.4% of Seneca County residents, 54.6% of Schuyler County residents and 65.8% of Chemung County residents have responded to the Census to date. If area residents would like our state to receive a greater proportion of funding for programs like Medicaid, Highway Planning and the National School Lunch Program, we must increase the number of completed Census forms throughout the district. It’s also worth noting that nonprofits, which do critically important work in our communities, decide how to allocate scarce resources and deploy personnel based on Census data. 

It’s also very important to be vigilant against scammers who try and use the cover of Census collection to steal sensitive information. Workers from the Census Bureau will never ask you for your full Social Security number. They will never seek financial information- no credit card data, no bank account information. Census takers must carry a photo identification with the seal of the U.S. Commerce Department.

This entire message can easily be summed up: please take a few minutes and fill out your Census form. Our share of federal funding depends on you doing your part. So do your part; if not to support your community, at least because the law requires you to as a U.S. citizen.

To complete the 2020 Census, online users can visit my2020census.gov. Those wishing to answer via phone should call 844-330-2020. Mail-in forms need to be sent back in the pre-addressed envelope provided by the Census Bureau.

Thank you for your time, consideration and participation.