While possibly having until Oct. 31 to complete the census count, the Daviess County Complete Count Committee is wasting no time in compiling the numbers for Owensboro-Daviess County.
In early spring, due to complications surrounding COVID-19, the U.S. Census Bureau extended the census deadline to Oct. 31 with the deadline for reporting totals to the president being extended to April 2021.
A change to those deadlines was abruptly announced by U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in early August. The August “Replan” rolled back the counting deadline to Sept. 30 and set Dec. 31 as the deadline for reporting totals to the president.
On Thursday, the seemingly fluid deadline once again shifted back to October and April after California U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh issued a preliminary injunction preventing the Census Bureau’s deadlines announced in August from going into effect, citing that it would be unlikely that the Census Bureau would reach its own 99% standard for completion by the end of September.
The Trump administration is in the process of appealing Koh’s decision.
While more time may ultimately be tacked on to the Census deadline, the Complete Count Committee is moving forward as if the deadline was still Sept. 30, said Keith Sanders, committee chair.
“Having that extra month would most certainly be helpful, but we are moving forward as if the deadline was still the end of September,” he said. “We are focusing on following up with areas of the community that have historically showed a low count turnout and we are really pushing to get our minority and migrant communities to fill out the census as well. Right now the state is at about 95% and I am confident that we are between that and 99% in Owensboro-Daviess County.”
The 35-person committee has been working tirelessly to gather community support from area nonprofits, civic centers, schools, faith-based organizations, and international organizations since its formation by Daviess Fiscal Court in December 2018, Sanders said.
“(Daviess County Fiscal-Court) Judge (Al) Mattingly and the commissioners knew how important the census is to our community, we have been meeting every other month ever since,” he said. “Our primary goal was to extend our outreach and really put a lot of focus on those communities that showed to track low in the past census and reach out to our immigrant and minority communities, especially given the rhetoric as of late regarding the census. We were able to increase general awareness through outreach to various groups and community partnerships. A big aid was that people could self-report online, especially given the pandemic. In all, 77% of Owensboro-Daviess County self-reported. We have done some really good work as a community. In this last push, we are really reaching out to our Burmese population and those that have not reported.”
The outreach to minority communities, especially the nearly 3,000 Burmese living in Owensboro-Daviess County, has been important, said Anna Allen, Owensboro International Center site director.
“We have worked to have mailers regarding the census in different languages and have been doing a great deal of outreach,” she said. “I think we have had a real impact and that will continue through the weekends as we canvas neighborhoods and work with area churches to aid in completing the census at Burmese services.”
At the end of the day, it is important that everyone in Owensboro-Daviess County fill out the Census if they have yet to do so, said Mattingly.
“The population that we record is proportional to the funding that we receive and can also impact the number of representatives and senators we have representing us,” he said. “I have seen people bragging on Facebook that they have run our canvassers off. Each person that does not fill out the census costs the community $1,500 a year or $15,000 over a 10-year period until the next census. If that household had three people, then they cost the community $45,000 in services for the next 10 years. The census is anonymous and is vital in determining next areas of growth in our community and in funding. Simply put, it is vital to our community — so fill it out.”
Jacob Mulliken, 270-228-2837, firstname.lastname@example.org