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2020 US Census to wrap up soon

By Sue Sitter - | Sep 12, 2020

Census enumerators knocking on doors will be a less common sight in Pierce County, thanks to a high response rate for 2020.

Louise Dardis, co-chair of the North Dakota Census, said enumerators began going door to door July 30 and will wrap up their counting efforts Sept. 30. “But they’re only going to the hard-count areas in the state. Pierce County, being the eighth highest in the state, out of 56 counties, you won’t have very many numerators going door to door,” Dardis said.

According to North Dakota Census figures, Pierce County has seen a 69.7 percent response rate so far.

“(Enumerators) are getting the lowest counties in percentages of people who have participated.”

That means counties such as neighboring Benson and Rolette Counties, with response rates in the 30 to 40 percent range, may have more census employees knocking on doors.

“Your county is doing well,” Dardis said of Pierce County. “The state is currently at 63.9 percent. The United States is at 64.9 percent. So, you have put in a great effort and (area census managers) need to be applauded.”

“The residents need to be applauded, too, because they understand the need and have completed the census and understand their duty as residents to complete the census so you can have some funding coming your way from the feds,” Dardis added.

Dardis said the census “happens every 10 years and it started way back in 1780.”

“The money that we as residents pay in taxes to the federal government, we get an apportioned amount of money back to the state for specific uses,” she added.

“If we have a low count, we don’t get that money and that money goes to other states. I would rather North Dakota gets the funds instead of Montana or California or Texas or Illinois,” Dardis said.

“The other thing is, we are a low-count state,” Dardis noted. “We don’t have a high population.”

“We have high needs within our state, not only with infrastructure but with education, with health care and social services programs, assisting others who cannot support themselves who have needs,” she explained.

“So,” Dardis added, “if we’re not collecting funds to support those programs, either they go unsupported or we have to find ways within our own state to support those programs.”

Although Pierce County won’t see as many census enumerators as surrounding counties, Dardis said, “One thing you’ll maybe see is a census taker knocking on some doors because they’re doing quality checks. They may not be asking you to take the census, but they may be asking, ‘Did you complete the census, and if you did, how did that go?'”

“They’re looking to see if your address matches your actual residence,” Dardis said. “They’re doing spot quality checks.”

“I think they’re giving it a heavier emphasis this year because fewer (enumerators) are taking the census (due to more residents self-responding online),” Dardis said. “So, they want to ensure that people are getting counted, or ensure that everybody living in a house is actually getting counted.”

Dardis said census takers are “not there to pass judgment. Sometimes people live in an apartment that has guidelines about how many can live there. Sometimes, there are more people than allowed there. And (the enumerators) need to see, did you claim everybody, and who lived there on April 1? They’re not there to pass judgment. They just need the head count.”

“The other thing is, sometimes people have been concerned about how private are the census results,” Dardis noted. “It’s totally anonymous. A landlord doesn’t have a clue as to how many people are living in an apartment from the census bureau, nor does the tax department, nor does the state. They only give information about the number of people who live in your region.”

“By law, they cannot share that information,” she added. “Even down to the point that if someone should do that and they’re caught, it’s a quarter of a million dollar fine and possible jail time for them.”

“That’s written right into the guidelines,” Dardis noted. “Working with the census as a volunteer, I had to take an oath and understand that.”

“The information is protected and remains private,” she added. “For example, if Louise Dardis takes the census in 2020, they won’t know what I reported until 72 years from now. I’ll be long gone by that time and so will my children.”

“A few weeks ago, there were 150,000 North Dakota households that had not responded to the census. This was in late July. That’s a lot, because there are multiple people who live in households,” Dardis noted. “If we miss just one household, it will cost the state $72,500,000.”

“Just imagine, 7.25 billion in 10 years, what we could do with that funding,” Dardis said.

“The other thing that surprises me, because I grew up in a small town is some of our counties with lower population rates, they have needs with roads, with education, with social services, with social programs to meet needs, and the money has to come from somewhere and if you’re in a low-count county, more of it’s going to fall on your shoulders, or you don’t get the programs,” Dardis added.

Dardis said all census collection efforts will end Sept. 30 due to the national emergency caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic. “The government came out nationwide and moved the date back from October 31 to September 30,” she said. We’re getting the push out really hard now, because they removed 31 days,” she noted.

“So, that’s where we’re having the biggest challenges, in some of our lower population counties. All I can say is, please understand that this will help you,” Dardis said. “Please complete the census.”

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