OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Census is ending a month earlier than originally planned, so if you haven’t filled yours out yet, now is the time.
The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted this year’s count, so the deadline was pushed back from Aug. 15 to Oct. 31.
However, the Trump Administration announced this month it will stop operations Sept. 30.
“Oklahoma has responded well compared to years past but so has the rest of the nation,” said Joe Dorman, with the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy. “The problem we’re facing is we’re still in the bottom 10 as far as response rates.”
If your Census form is still sitting on your coffee table, you’re not alone.
According to Census Counts, a 600-organization coalition of Census advocates, about 59% of Oklahomans have already filled out their Census.
That’s below the national average of 64%.
It’s a different story in some of the state’s tribal areas where reporting is as low as 47%.
Dorman says many people don’t realize how important the Census is. He says every Oklahoman accounts for about $1,700 per year in federal funding.
That money goes to schools, road and bridge projects, plus programs like Soonercare. This year, some of the funding went to necessary relief from the COVID-19 pandemic.
It also helps you save money in the long run.
“More importantly, those programs are available so the state often times has to make up that difference,” Dorman said. “So by filling out the Census , people are working to keep their own taxes lower at the state level.”
In addition, the count impacts congressional representation.
This year, the pandemic has made it easier than ever to complete your Census.
“The Census Bureau made changes which would allow people to respond over the internet or respond with a phone call or the simple way of mailing it in,” said Dorman.
You might even be able to respond in person at home.
The usual door knocking was postponed a bit – but Oklahoma was one of the first states to resume the practice.
“These workers are putting their own lives at risk with COVID-19 to try to get people to respond because it’s that important,” Dorman said.
The Trump Administration’s shortening of the Census response period led to lawsuits from more than half a dozen cities, counties and civil rights groups this week. The lawsuits claim there was no justification for the shortened time period.
The Census Bureau says it does not comment on pending litigation.
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