About 63.2% of Hall County residents have been counted in the U.S. census -- somewhat in line with Georgia and national averages -- but that hasn’t slowed local officials’ push for as complete a count as possible.
If anything, there’s more of a sense of urgency, as U.S. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham announced Aug. 3 that field counts – or workers going door to door – will end Sept. 30 instead of Oct. 31, as part of a plan to “to accelerate the completion of data collection and apportionment counts by our statutory deadline of Dec. 31.”
“That was disappointing,” said Phillippa Lewis Moss of the Hall County’s six-member Complete Count Committee of the announcement. “We have less time to close the gap.”
The effort already had been challenging because of the COVID-19 pandemic limiting door-to-door contact. Initially, the plan was for workers to go into communities after April 1, or Census Day, when the government gets a snapshot of where people live and “everyone who usually lives and sleeps in your home.”
How to respond: If you haven’t filled out a questionnaire yet or had a field worker knock at your door, you can complete the census online at 2020census.gov. Or you can call 844-330-2020 (English speakers) or 844-468-2020 (Spanish speakers).
Noteworthy: According to the U.S. Census Bureau, if someone visits your home to collect a response for the 2020 Census, you can verify their identity by checking to make sure that they have a valid ID badge, with their photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date. If you still have questions about their identity, you can call 844-330-2020.
However, because of the pandemic, workers didn’t venture out until earlier this summer, said Moss, who is director of Gainesville-Hall County Community Services.
“But I’m sure there’s been some apprehension from people to want to interact with them” because of the coronavirus, she said.
Moss is pushing for compliance, as much as possible, among residents, as she and committee members are putting up banners this week in areas where a lot of households haven’t responded to a census survey.
The banner asks for residents to “complete your 2020 census today. Federal funding for schools and social programs depends on it.”
“We have an obligation, as residents of this country, as residents of this county, to get ourselves counted,” Moss said.
According to Tableau Public, an online tool used in the census, Hall County ranks 25th among Georgia counties in terms of response. Neighboring Forsyth County, by comparison, is second at 75.2%.
Georgia’s overall response rate is 59.9%, or 38th in the United State. The national response rate is 64.6%, according to Tableau Public.
“There are some residents who have concerns about the safety and security of the census,” Moss said. “They just take issue with Uncle Sam being in their business … and there are things that average, large businesses know about you already.”
She added: “Amazon, Walmart and Target know where you live.”
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