Making it count: Gearing up for Census Week
Time is running out for people to complete their 2020 Census forms, and the Sept. 30 deadline is drawing ever nearer. According to data compiled by the United States Census Bureau, as of Sept. 15, the state of Oklahoma only has a 60.1% response rate. That number drops down to 59.8% within the City of Ardmore and 57.4% in Carter County.
Ari James, a member of the Ardmore Area Complete Count Committee, said they are hoping to get that number higher while there is still time. Starting next week they will be hosting Census week at various locations around the city. There, people can ask questions, get information, and fill out the census on the spot.
“Everyone on the Ardmore Complete County Committee has done a great job about talking about the census, answering questions and dispelling rumors, but the issue that we have now is there are still so many people who have not been connected to that information,” James said. “So this is our last chance, final push to bring that information out to people who might not have seen it on TV commercials, YouTube ads, the radio and the newspaper. So we’re trying to meet those people in locations where they might be.”
James said while the goal of the event will be to get people to complete the census, there will also be cash and prizes donated from area businesses and sponsors for people who complete the census.
The event will be taking place daily at numerous locations around the city. For example, they will be at the University Center on Monday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Grace Center on Tuesday from 8 a.m. to noon, the Food and Resource Center on Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Carter County Health Department on Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Gold Mountain Casino on Friday from 1:00 p.m. to 3 p.m., and Casa Romo on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. These are just a few of the locations where representatives will be present to answer questions and help with the census. A complete list of locations and times can be found at www.facebook.com/AOKCensusWeek.
Those who have not yet completed their census can do so online at www.2020census.gov or by calling 844-330-2020. Census takers will also be visiting households that have not self reported in the coming weeks. Census workers will be wearing masks and can take information while maintaining social distancing.
James said not completing the census puts both the state and the region at a disadvantage when it comes to receiving federal funding.
“We’re looking at losing around $16,000 per person in funding over the course of a decade for every person who is not counted,” James said. “Only being at less than 60% is putting us at a huge loss in terms of federal — and then down the road state — funding. This is not only funding for programs and social services like food stamps and that sort of thing. We’re talking about everything from schools to roads, to tax incentives for businesses. All of these things are going to be impacted by being so severely undercounted.”