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Census underway in Marshall County

Contributed photo The 2020 U.S. Census is the first time people will be able to respond to the Census digitally.

2020 is a historical year for many reasons, the COVID-19 pandemic, a presidential election and the 22nd U.S. Census.

In spite of a worldwide pandemic the U.S. Census must still be taken. A lot of things hinge on the Census including federal funding and congressional representation.

“The Census trumps COVID,” said Shari Coughenour, Marshalltown city clerk and co-coordinator of the Complete Count Committee in Marshall County. “Don’t forget to do your Census while you’re self quarantining.”

The United States Constitution mandates a census of the population every 10 years. The information gathered is used to determine the number of seats each state holds in the U.S. House of Representatives. The information also determines how public funds are allocated by state, local and federal lawmakers for public services and infrastructure.

A timeline of the Census is:

• The Census Bureau began counting the remote population in Alaska on Jan. 21.

• Households in America should have received a mailing sent March 12 to March 20, with information on how to respond to the Census.

• April 1 was called Census Day, as it is the day the bureau uses to determine who has been counted and where they live.

• From April 29 to May 1, homeless people will be counted.

• From April 16 to June 19, Census takers will communicate with colleges, nursing home facilities and prisons for counts of residents.

• Census takers will interview homes that have not responded from May 27 to Aug. 14.

• In December, the information will be provided to Congress and the President.

• On March 31, 2021, redistricting based on the Census information, will begin.

All around the United States residents can fill out the Census in a variety of ways. This is the first U.S. Census in which people can participate digitally and over the phone.

“We’re using social media,” Coughenour said.

The pandemic isn’t necessarily changing how the Census is being conducted.

The only thing delayed is a one-stop-shop which would have been located at the library to help people whose first language isn’t English.

“The federal mandate is that it’s all supposed to be done by December,” Coughenour said.

Residents of Marshall County should have received a postcard reminding them of the Census by now.

So far 51.8 percent of households in Iowa have responded to the 2020 Census. Which is high compared to 46.2 percent of households nationwide. Households that have not responded will receive a paper questionnaire.  

“If you’re among the nearly half of all the nation’s households that have responded already, thank you!” said Census Bureau Director Dr. Steven Dillingham. “It has never been easier to respond on your own, whether online at 2020census.gov, over the phone, or by mail — all without having to meet a census taker. It’s something everyone can do while practicing social distancing at home to make a difference today, tomorrow and the next 10 years.”

Families will get a letter in the mail reminding them to participate unlike previous years where they would receive hand-delivered forms,

“Even if households don’t receive a letter in the mail, the Census Bureau will drop off a census invitation and paper form as soon as it is safe to do so,” according to a Census news release. “Census takers will also follow up with all households that do not respond on their own.”

The first Census was conducted in 1790 by the then Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson. Since then every 10 years the United States federal government has counted residents.

English speaking residents can complete the Census via my2020Census.gov or call 844-330-2020. Spanish speaking residents can also visit my2020Census.gov to participate by clicking the “English” in the upper right hand corner of the page by the globe icon and then clicking “ESPANOL” or calling 844-468-2020.

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Contact Thomas Nelson at tnelson@timesrepublican.com

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