2020 Census fuels yearlong push to be counted

April 5, 2019 GMT

Prepare to be counted.

That was the message from Olmsted County’s Complete Count Committee on Tuesday.

While the 2020 Census is a year away, local officials are spreading the word about the importance of participating in the count.

“It’s the basis of federal funding for the services the county provides, so we want to get everyone counted,” Olmsted County Commissioner Sheila Kiscaden said, noting the county receives an average of $1,500 per resident to provide a variety of services.

Each person missed during the count could mean $1,500 less each year for the county, with the impact lasting a decade.

In addition to being used to determine funding levels for federal programs, the results of next year’s census could affect representation on a federal level.

Officials have projected that Minnesota would lose one House seat if all of the nation’s 435 seats were reapportioned according to today’s populations. But if the state’s current population growth spurt continues, they project the state would just barely keep its eighth seat.

Kiscaden said that’s why the local Complete Count Committee has joined the statewide “We Count” campaign.

Olmsted County’s push on Tuesday followed a similar campaign rally at the state Capitol on Monday, where Gov. Tim Walz launched a yearlong effort to raise awareness of the census.

“The ability to have a fair democracy is incumbent on every single person being counted,” the Democratic governor said.

On Tuesday, Dee Sabol, the executive director of the Diversity Council, said the count goes even further than federal funding and representation.

“It helps us form the story of how we talk about ourselves and how we understand our community,” she said. “The census data is used by everyone to consider how we should be serving and who we should be serving.”

Much of the We Count campaign is focused on ensuring the most complete count possible among historically undercounted groups, including renters, children, immigrants, people of color and low-income households.

Rochester City Clerk Anissa Hollingshead said local growth adds even another level to the importance of the census.

“It is essential for planning purposes,” she said, noting the data will have impacts on the neighborhood level, in addition to the state level.

Kiscaden said that’s just another reason for joining the statewide effort.

“This is the first time the state of Minnesota has asked to have Complete Count Committees in every county of the state,” she said. “It’s because the state recognizes that we are at risk of losing a member of Congress, and we are at risk of losing funding, and we are at risk of not having an accurate count of all our populations and all of the things we need to do.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.