The census matters more than ever

Wendy SmithFarragut, The Farragut Insider

These are strange days. We’re not sure what tomorrow holds, let alone a month or a year down the road. But we all want to believe that we’ll eventually get back to normal. We want to believe that big-picture needs like parks and roads and schools will one day seem as important as staying healthy and keeping our jobs. We certainly thought they were important a couple of months ago.

That’s why it’s critical that every household in Knox County complete a 2020 Census form. You’ve probably already received an envelope from the Census Bureau. It’s an invitation to complete the census, and it’s vitally important.

Why does that envelope deserve your attention as you try to work from home and homeschool your kids? The answer is simple: every year, billions of dollars in federal funds are distributed based on census data. The bigger our reported population, the bigger the slice of pie we’ll receive from the federal government.

The results of the census also determine the number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives and are used to draw congressional and state legislative districts. Representation should matter to all of us, especially as we watch our leaders guide us through a national crisis.

The census is conducted every 10 years. You may be like me and not remember what kinds of questions are on the decennial census. You’ll be relieved to hear that it’s a short and simple form. The questions primarily have to do with who currently resides at your home—the sex, age and race of each. There is also a question about whether you rent or own your home.

If it makes you nervous to share this info with the government, you will be relieved to know that the Census Bureau is bound by Title 13 of the U.S. Code to keep your data confidential, and it can’t release any identifiable information about you, your home or your business, even to law enforcement agencies. The answers you provide are used only to produce statistics.

With so much social distancing going on, you should have plenty of time to complete the census. But, just to make it easier, you can now complete the form online. Your invitation includes a census ID number, and when you go online and type it in, the form is already populated with the people who resided with you 10 years ago. If you want to go old-school, you can opt to complete a paper form or use one of those old-timey telephones that plugs into a wall.

How you complete the census is less important than just getting it done. Don’t put it off or assume that your household won’t make a difference in the overall count. Everyone matters and everyone needs to be counted. Please speak up for Knox County.

Town of Farragut marketing and public relations coordinator Wendy Smith is your reliable Farragut Insider.

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