Seminole County’s census response rate is one of the lowest in the state, and the lowest in Southwest Georgia. As of Wednesday, August 19, Seminole County’s response rate is 39.4 percent, compared to the state average of 59.4. Miller County is reporting a rate of 55.3 percent and Decatur County rates is currently 46.9 percent. Are we going to let Miller County and Decatur County count more than we do? I certainly hope not.
As an incentive to encourage all Seminole County citizens to register for the census by the September 30th deadline, a local group of concerned citizens is now offering a $1,000 incentive to take the time and get counted.
On October 1, the name of one Seminole County resident who has registered for the 2020 census will be randomly picked to receive the prize.
To make sure your name is in the running for the census sign up incentive, Seminole County residents must submit proof of census registration to the Donalsonville News office by 5 p.m. on September 30. Residents will also be in the running for the prize if they register at Donalsonville City Hall or register at one of the census sign-up stations to be set up around the county through the end of September.
Sign up stations will be held this Saturday, August 22 from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. at Piggly Wiggly, Dollar General and Mr. Pips in Donalsonville and Dollar General at Lake Seminole.
In addition to the $1,000 incentive, residents of Donalsonville will receive a $5 credit on their utility bills if they register and get counted at Donalsonville City Hall.
With an undercounted population we will be in danger of not getting the federal funding we deserve. For every person not counted in the 2020 Census, Seminole County will lose $2,300. If you have not been counted, please take five minutes to fill out your Census today. It’s quick and it is confidential. Information submitted will not be shared with any other government agency and will be used only to determine an accurate count of Seminole County residents.
According to Assistant Regional Census Manager Marilyn Stephens, Census workers have now entered the field and will be knocking on the doors of people who have not responded.
Due to the pandemic, Stephens said workers are taking all precautions. The workers will be wearing a mask and standing six feet apart, while conducting the interview outside.
Stephens said if no one answers the door, Census workers will leave a card that tells residents how to fill out the form online or they can fill it out over the phone from 7 a.m. – 2 a.m. daily.
Stephens realizes that responding to the 2020 Census probably fell on the backburner for some.
“People have multiple priorities, and I realize that other things came up, but this only takes less than 10 minutes to fill out,” she said.
One of the many reasons people have failed to fill out their information for the Census is the rise in cases of COVID-19.
However, filling out the Census form can help hospitals rebuild their equipment supply once the pandemic slows down.
“The Census is how healthcare companies and rural hospitals receive funding,” Stephens explained. “Every grant they apply for looks at census data.”
Many grants additionally look at the racial breakdown of a certain area and if everyone does not respond then the hospital might not receive a grant they could use to help everyone.
Stephens is aware the number one concern for individuals is data security.
She realizes that is why many are hesitant to open the door or even fill out the card and mail it back, but she assures everyone that Census data is protected by Title 13 and Title 44 of the law.
These state that all data collected cannot be published in a way that would identify any specific individual of the home. The information gathered also cannot be subpoenaed by the courts, ICE or the President and is sealed away for 72 years.
Stephens urges everyone to fill out the information today. She wants people to know that race, culture and status as a citizen or non-citizen doesn’t matter; they only want to know who was living in that home on April 1, 2020, including babies.
To fill out the Census online, visit 2020census.gov or call 844-330-2020