Charleston, W.Va. — Are you looking for something positive to do while the state is under a "Stay at Home" order during the Coronavirus pandemic? West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner suggests citizens use this time to fulfill their civic duty to complete the 2020 U.S. Census.
The U.S. Census Bureau is the Federal agency responsible to count every citizen living in the United States and its five territories.
According to Warner, households throughout the state should have received a 2020 U.S. Census Bureau mailing between March 12 and March 20. For the first time, the Census will promote online response as the preferred method, as this will make it easier and more convenient for most to respond. However, if people choose not to respond online, they can respond by phone or by mail.
"It is very important for every citizen to be counted during the Census process," Warner said. "Federal funding to state and local communities, congressional representation, economic development grants, business recruitment, rural broadband investment, health centers, fire departments, Medicaid, highways, and a number of other programs depend on accurate counting of people within our state. I cannot over-emphasize how important the process is – there is a lot at stake for West Virginia and we want our count to be accurate."
Warner can be seen in a video helping to promote participation by West Virginians in the Census at https://youtu.be/HTQSr7O-arQ.
The WV Legislature will also use Census counts to draw boundaries for congressional and state legislative districts. Those boundary adjustments will take place in 2021.
Warner noted that completing the Census is required by law, pointing out that our Founding Fathers wrote the need to conduct a census into our U.S. Constitution. “If it was that important to them at the beginning of our nation, it should be important to us today,” Warner said. “If you do not respond, the U.S. Census Bureau will follow up in person to collect your response.”
Warner said that in return, the Census Bureau is required by law to protect a citizen's answers. Citizen's responses are used only to produce statistics, and the Census Bureau does not disclose any personal information.
For three days, between April 29 and May 1, Census workers will visit homeless shelters, soup kitchens and outdoor locations to count people who are currently experiencing homelessness.
You are asked to complete a Census questionnaire on or before April 1.
To respond online, or for more information on the 2020 U.S. Census, visit 2020Census.gov.
"West Virginia is relying on everyone to participate in the Census," Warner said. "You count. You matter."