Only 59% of Trigg Countians have responded to the 2020 U.S. Census, a far cry from the numbers in 2010, when 86.4% of the county’s residents participated in the decennial count that is mandated by the U.S. Constitution.
“This was an awesome response,” observed Brenda Southwick, a Trigg County resident and member of the county’s 2020 complete count committee, congratulating her fellow residents’ efforts 10 years ago in support of the census.
This year, with less than a month left to be counted, she is encouraging residents who haven’t replied to go online and complete their forms or dig up the census invitation they received in April and follow through with the process.
No census information will be gathered after Sept. 30, the current deadline for the decennial count; the deadline had been set for Oct. 31, but Southwick said the U.S. Census Bureau is now ending all of its counting efforts a month earlier.
So far this year, 23.6% of Trigg Countians have responded using the Internet, while another 35.4% have responded using other methods, according to the most recent figures available at 2020census.gov/en/response-rates.html.
U.S. citizens have been able to respond online, by phone or using the mail.
Southwick noted that it’s a big drop from the percentage 10 years ago and represents a lot of money that will be missing in the community in coming years.
In addition to determining how many seats each state gets in Congress, the census also determines grants and other funding that benefits local communities.
“We’re just surprised that it’s that low,” Southwick said of the current percentages of Trigg Countians responding to the 2020 count. “But in a way, we’re not, with the COVID virus and the way it affects our lives anymore.”
The committee she serves on has shared information through local media, displayed banners and signs in town, reached out to at-risk groups like the Amish and Hispanics and contacted church groups and others to help spread the word.
“We did everything we could to make sure every possible person was contacted and had knowledge and information,” said Southwick, noting that it’s her group’s job to get information to the community and encourage people to be counted.
Southwick observed that it comes down to the individual and whether he or she chooses to take part in the census, but it’s extremely important to do so, she said.
“It helps our community as a whole,” Southwick noted. “We’re a rural community, and sometimes it’s difficult for rural communities to get funding.”
She urged every eligible adult to complete the forms, and she noted that every person in the county needs to be counted, from young children to adults.
Parents need to count their children. Single people, adults and any populations of people who have been residents for six months or more need to participate.
Doing so is important for every person; it’s important for everybody to have a say, for them to know that they helped their county get funds and representation in Congress, and for them to feel good about having a part in that, Southwick said.
She said she knows Trigg County has received several grants. And while she said there’s a lot of different reasons that could have happened, Southwick believes the county’s high response rate in the 2010 Census helped make it possible.
She urged anyone who hasn’t already completed this year’s census to do so.
The 2020census.gov website is easy to navigate and has step-by-step instructions to help people fill out the 10-question forms, Southwick said.
Additionally, residents may drop by the John L. Street Library on Main Street and use those computers to fill out the questionnaire, Director Pam Metts said.
The library is now open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Saturday, although it will be closed this coming Monday in observance of Labor Day.
As the 2020 Census wraps up, enumerators will also be going door-to-door in Trigg County and elsewhere to get responses from people who haven’t replied.
They will have their federal census IDs and likely their black census bags.
Southwick noted that it’s difficult to acquire grants and funding for residents of small rural communities, and she said that’s why it’s so important for the people who live in Trigg County to participate in this year’s count of U.S. citizens.
“We have a lot of work to do in the next few weeks,” she wrote in an article, thanking those who have already been counted and urging others to do the same.
“I encourage you to go online, dig for that paper ballot that came in April and complete your census information to help secure funding for you and your family as well as important representation in Congress,” she continued.
“It’s extremely important,” Southwick added. “Every person needs to be counted.”
Reach Tonya S. Grace at 270-887-3240 or firstname.lastname@example.org.