By Vivian Shipe
KNOXVILLE, TN — The order to stop the census early came on top of the four month delay caused by COVID-19. Originally scheduled to end Oct. 31st, the decision handed down to the Census Bureau to cease operation on Sept. 30, kicked the census count into warp drive.
Around the country, as well as in Knoxville, time is of the essence.
Now, as they say in the military: the mission is to complete the mission.
The enumerators, as census workers are called, hit the streets in mid-August wearing masks, carrying hand sanitizer, and iPhones for the first time in it’s 230 year history, the census count is being conducted electronically.
Along with census workers on the streets, all across the country, the Census department developed partnerships in
every community called complete census count committees. These organizations, comprised of city and county leaders and community organizations have joined together to hold events all thru the city and county to get the people counted. These events are now being manned by mobile census questionnaire teams who set up and help people do their census on site.
The crisis is real.
The short time to count means there is a good chance that people of color and young children will be undercounted yet again. There is also a great threat nationwide with the country aging meaning a huge gap will exist over the next ten years in the area of services for elderly and young children. That lack translates into greatly needed missing dollars.
In 2010 over 800,000 people of color were not counted. The 2020 census is worth over $675 billion with every person not counted presenting a loss of over $2,000 per person per community.
An undercount of the population opens up the possibility of losing a state
representative as the population count is used to determine how many have a seat to represent their district.
There is also a real threat of voting lines being redrawn with the results of the 2020 Census being the deciding factor.
With three weeks remaining before the count window closes; Knoxville is pressing in. The Voice of the Voiceless, a count team member, is using the census response rate tool to track responses by zip code. Events are being held all over the city and county to get the numbers up and make sure monies apportioned for the area before Sept. 30.
Groups like Knoxville Renaissance and churches are stepping up to try and drive the response rates up in African American communities. Lennen Seney United
Methodist Church plans to hold a huge grocery give away census drive on Sept 8th in their parking lot in the heart of a low response rate to ensure their area is counted and not left out.
The message in Knoxville Tennessee is the same nationwide:
Time is running out…Be counted!