Earlier this year, I wrote an editorial encouraging constituents in the 12th senatorial district to complete the 2020 census form which has been mailed. At the halfway mark in time set aside to complete and return the forms (or go online), COVID-19 happened.

The population count influences funding for local programs and services that are critical to the well-being of our communities.  This includes funding for local schools, roads, fire departments, emergency services and hospitals.  It also affects the distribution of state shared revenues and grants to Tennessee counties which are used to provide vital services for many local citizens.

In addition, the census count determines how many congressional seats we will have in the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as the apportionment of state legislative and local government districts in 2021.  An undercount means that we will not receive the full measure of representation we deserve.

There are many ways for citizens to serve their community and shape our future.  One important way is to stand up and be counted.   We have been afforded more time to make this happen.  Due to COVID-19, the Census Bureau’s field data collection activities were suspended until June 1.  President Trump has asked Congress for 120 additional calendar days to deliver the final apportionment counts.   This gives us the additional time needed to get these forms returned.

Citizens can respond<https://2020census.gov/en/ways-to-respond.html> to the questionnaire online, by mail or by phone.  It takes less than 10 minutes to complete.   Also, encourage your family and friends to participate.  Many people have been distracted due to these extraordinary times and have forgotten to return their forms.  A friendly reminder is a big help in ensuring that we increase participation in our counties.

We can all shape our community’s future by participating in the 2020 Census.  Let’s get over the finish line so we can fully be counted.  It is well worth the effort.

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Census Return Rate as of May 7, 2020

National Self-Response Rate 57.3%
Tennessee Self-Response Rate 56.7%
Self-Response Rate of Counties in the 12th Senatorial District
Campbell: 45.9%
Fentress: 41.3%
Morgan: 49.4%
Rhea: 47.3%
Roane: 55.6%
Pickett: 41.1%
Scott: 49.2%