As We See It

In a presidential election season, pundits and activists urge us to “Stand up and be counted.”

It’s a useful phrase for rallying voters to the polls, but it’s also good advice in a Census year.

The Constitution mandates a count of the country’s population every 10 years. The framers intended the results of the Census to be used to apportion seats in the House of Representatives among the 50 states, but now it does much more.

The 2020 Census will be used to divide federal funding between communities for hospitals, fire departments, school lunch programs and other services. Funding for Medicaid, Head Start, mental health services and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is determined by Census information.

Tennessee lawmakers will use the population numbers to draw congressional and state legislative districts. County election officials will use them to redraw county and school board district lines.

Business owners will refer to the Census when deciding where to open new stores, restaurants, factories and offices and where to expand operations and hire new employees.

To say the Census is important is an understatement.

The deadline for collecting responses is Sept. 30, less than three weeks away.

You’ve probably already received a Census form in the mail, and you may have been visited by Census takers at your door.

If you responded, you’ve done your part. You’ve been counted.

If you’re one of the procrastinators who has yet to respond, now’s the time.

According to the Census Bureau, Washington County’s self-response rate, those who answered online, by mail or by phone, was 69.4% Friday. That’s a smaller response rate than the 71.9% who responded in 2010.

The other counties in Northeast Tennessee also show lower response rates than the last Census.

As the deadline draws near, it’s time to stand up and be counted for yourself and your community.

You can respond online at 2020census.gov, by calling 844-330-2020 or by filling out the paper questionnaire mailed to your home and returning it in the provided envelope.