At our Winter Workshop, Maryland’s Secretary of Planning, Robert S. McCord, impressed us with the vital importance of the information that will be derived from a successful 2020 Census and the vital importance of each citizen’s participation and advocacy. League members were the right audience for this message and here is why: League members seek to be informed; League members educate; and League members understand the importance of advocacy.
Briefly, an accurate census count of all persons will have a huge impact on our planning for school construction, transportation planning and the distribution of funding for human services and public safety. Secretary McCord noted that each person not counted can represent a loss of $18,350 for local government. Census data is aggregated so that characteristics of the population can be accurately mapped enabling critical planning decisions like the placement of mass transit stops and the kinds of school facilities that will be needed as the makeup of families change.
Maybe you already knew all of this, but have you considered how you plan to share this vital information with others? Secretary McCord encouraged League members to be in touch with friends who you see as having influence - elected officials for sure, and acquaintances connected in service clubs or on social media, or in churches, synagogues and mosques. Don’t forget neighbors who know neighbors, too.
Responses can be filed online, by phone, by mail or given directly to a census worker. Personal information will not be compromised because every census employee is sworn to confidentiality backed up by a $250,000 fine and five years in jail if that oath is violated. By law, names of persons in households are not released for 72 years! Watch for your invitation to participate that is being mailed on March 12, 2020 and find at least one or two ways to encourage others to get involved.
There are two census related statistics you will often hear cited. The participation rate measures those who self-respond. The under counted rate reflects those who do not respond to in-person outreach from a census worker. These two rates measure two different things and can vary.
For tools to help you get out the count and to learn more, visit https://census.maryland.gov/Pages/Outreach-Tool-Kits.aspx - remember, Everyone Counts!
Richard Willson & Lois Hybl, co-Presidents