City councilman not confident census will produce an accurate count for 2020by J.D. Bailey on 09/29/20
The 2020 U.S. Census count in Columbia has gone a little rougher than expected, according to Magnolia City Councilman Steve Nipper.
The city official on Monday issued an update on the local count. He elaborated on some of the hurdles overcome during the counting process.
The census count was set to end on Sept. 30, but a federal judge in California last week issued a ruling extending the counting process for another month, until Oct. 31. The ruling is expected to be appealed by the U.S. Census Bureau to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, according to Nipper.
So what does this all mean to the local Columbia County count effort? Nothing but confusion, the local councilman says.
“Congress could step in and say that the census could continue until the end of October,” he said Monday. “They could put the judge’s order into law and extend the statutory deadlines for a more accurate count, but it appears Congress has a lot on its mind right now.”
Instead of playing a waiting game, Nipper said that a renewed emphasis has been put on ending the count on Sept. 30.
“To let y’all know, I feel like the census has not gone our way,” the councilman added.
Nipper who heads the City Council’s census efforts noted that illegal immigrants afraid to respond to census workers, as well as coronavirus chaos have all contributed to the downward feeling. Enumerators are still out counting, but their deadline is now only a day away.
The census was originally set to end on July 31, but the date was extended to Oct. 31 in April, due to coronavirus concerns. Then, in early August, the count deadline date was reset again to Sept. 30. That date was then challenged in court by civil rights groups and local governments, thus making way for the California ruling last Thursday.
The reasoning for the Sept. 30 count deadline, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, is so the federal agency can properly accumulate and figure the census data before its Dec. 31 deadline. These census numbers are then used to determine the number of congressional seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, and they must be turned over by the end of the year.
“We just hope we can get an accurate count,” Nipper said.
To help get a solid count, efforts are currently underway to speak to local postal workers and neighbors to get an idea of how many people may be residing at an uncounted home. Phone calls will also be placed to unresponsive addresses.
Nipper noted that the current census count can mean $10 million over the next decade in turnback monies to the city and the county. The city councilman said he’s afraid other contributing factors, such as low birth rate and an exodus of south Arkansas residents to northwest Arkansas, won’t help matters.
“I’m not real confident that we’re going to get an accurate count,” he said.
As a reminder, anyone can complete their census questionnaire by calling 1-844-330-2020, online at www.my2020census.gov, or by mailing your questionnaire to:
U.S. Census Bureau
National Processing Center
100 Logistics Avenue
Jeffersonville, IN 47144