Ashland Census Committee urges students and community members to participate in upcoming count

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Submitted by Ashland Chamber of Commerce

Avaerie Fitzgerald, MANAGING EDITOR OF THE COLLEGIAN

Members of the Ashland Chamber of Commerce, along with local businesses and nonprofit organizations have joined together to bring the Census Complete Count Committee (CCC) to Ashland, hoping to spread the importance of completing the 2020 census.

The census occurs once every 10 years, and for most college students, it will be the first time filling it out. The official day of the census is April 1, and if anyone neglects to fill it out by April 8, the federal government will send workers to houses in order to collect information.

This will be the first year in which citizens can submit the census via phone, paper, or an internet response.

Article I, Section II of the Constitution mandates a complete count of the country’s population to take place once every 10 years, and this year will mark the 24th population count since 1790.

Emily McKinley, coordinator of First Impressions and communications assistant, along with Jacob Coffy, strategic partnership and member recruitment coordinator for the Chamber, are just two of the members that are a part of the committee.

“If we miss one individual it can hurt our area for 10 years,” McKinley said. “We did some research and I have confirmed that if one person in Ashland County is miscounted or missed by the census, that results in $1800 of federal funding that we miss every year for 10 years.”

Some of the questions that may be asked are regarding the number of people living in a residency, what kind of residency a person is living in (house, apartment, mobile house), and more personal questions like age, sex, phone number and race.

“The census not only dictates the amount of government funding we get here in Ohio, or in Ashland, it also affects roads, transportation, medical services and schools. When children are undercounted, that’s where we get overcrowding in schools,” McKinley said.

CCC has around 35 members, and the group is stressing that the census is simple, safe and every eligible citizen’s civic duty.

For those living in dorms, the census will be required and students will fill it out based on where they are for the majority of the year. If they stay in Ashland dorms or apartments, then they will fill out the census for Ashland.

“Those students are walking, they’re using the roads, they’re part of the economy, they’re part of grant application processes,” Coffy said. “So, we want our roads to be as best as possible, and we want our city to be the best as possible and to take care of those that are living here – including the students.”

A census bureau employee will be on Ashland University’s campus sometime between the end of March and beginning of April completing a count of every dorm as part of the quarter group count. Those living off-campus will be getting a paper census sent via mail.

The funding and representation of all individuals alike is the main focus and concern for the city.

Some of the reasons for not filling out the census are reported to be government mistrust and fear of census scammers, which is why citizens ages from birth to five-years old are often miscounted in the census. There is a distrust of the government and fear of getting a child’s identity stolen.

Many citizens do not always want to give information away if they do not see direct impact from that decision. Reports from the census are kept private and all federal census workers are held under an oath to not reveal personal information of any and all citizens.

10 years ago, a massive miscount caused about a $675 billion dollar loss to the state of Ohio, and this year the government and the census committee’s set up to spread information report that this will be the shortest census ever.

“We really need to get it right. You have an average of six to eight censuses you’re actually going to complete in your lifetime,” Coffy said. “That’s just 10-minutes of every decade.”

The idea for CCC came from the federal government in its idea in turning to communities for help. Communities can advocate from within businesses and nonprofits and stress to local residents why the census is so important not only for the individuals, but for other community members as well.