Although the 2020 U.S. Census tally doesn’t begin until next April, Columbus and Franklin County officials are reaching out to people in advance in order to get the most accurate headcount.
Residents can expect to see workers and volunteers at local festivals and other public gatherings over the next 15 months to assist in providing information sought by the U.S. Census Bureau, according to Tyler Lowry, spokesman for the Franklin County Board of Commissioners.
The 2020 Census Complete Count Committee, co-chaired by Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther and county Commissioner Kevin Boyce, is composed of 30 subcommittees represented by civic, faith-based and public-school groups.
“Our goal is just to ensure everyone gets counted,” Lowry said. “It’s as simple as that.”
Doug Murray, director of community affairs for Ginther’s office, said the committees are focused on “hard-count communities,” or those with a large number of low-income families, children up to age 5, racial and ethnic minorities, senior citizens and immigrants.
Wedgewood, a neighborhood in west Columbus, is one example of a community with high Somali and English-as-a-second-language populations that has a low census response rate, Murray said.
He said the committees and their members would work through the end of August 2020, when the federal government is expected to wrap up its latest 10-year count.
The government, for the first time, is making a concentrated effort to get citizens to provide census data online, which is going to be a challenge, Murray said.
“We are concerned about people’s access to computers and the internet,” he said.
Therefore, local officials will call on libraries to offer people help getting access to computers, he said.
However, online is not the only way people can submit census data, Murray said. Residents may still send in information via mail or by phone. In the final step, census workers will knock on doors.
An accurate count is important, Murray said, because $675 billion in federal money is distributed to state, local and county governments based on those figures. Also, updated information is used to form legislative districts, he said.
Many needy families rely on accurate census data because social-service agencies that receive federal money could be underfunded and people might not get the resources they need without an accurate population count, Murray said.
Responding to the census is mandated by the U.S. law but Murray said he is unaware of anyone who has faced criminal charges in recent memory for refusing to submit data or for providing false information.
Lowry said myriad reasons might account for people not filling out the form or providing information.
“I think people just don’t know much about the census,” Lowry said. “They might not know it’s required in the (U.S.) Constitution. They might not know what it’s used for. They might not know how that information is shared and not shared among federal agencies.”
For more information, go to columbus.gov/columbuscounts.
The following subcommittees have been established for the Columbus and Franklin County 2020 Census Complete Count Committee:
Business and Workforce
Alex Fischer, CEO, the Columbus Partnership
Communications and Media
Tyler Lowry, director of public affairs, Franklin County Board of Commissioners
Kimber Perfect, deputy chief of staff for communications, Office of the Mayor
Youth Serving Organizations
Rebecca Asmo, CEO, Boys and Girls Clubs of Columbus
Children Ages 0-5
Jane Leach, executive director, FutureReady Columbus
Mental Health Services
Human Services Organizations
Lisa Courtice, CEO, United Way of Central Ohio
Data, Maps and Technology
Shoreh Elhami, citywide GIS manager, Columbus Department of Technology
Education (Preschool-Grade 12)
Dr. Talisa Dixon, superintendent, Columbus City Schools
Dr. Ann McDaniel, senior VP for student life, Ohio State University
Tearicka Cradle, Restoration Academy coordinator, Columbus Civil Service Commission
Kysten Palmore, task-force coordinator, Franklin County Reentry Task Force
Kevin Dudley, senior adviser for community development, Catalyst Columbus
Aaron Schill, director of regional data and mapping, MORPC
Penny Perry-Balonier, chief deputy, Franklin County Sheriff's Office
Michelle Heritage, CEO, Community Shelter Board
Becky Westerfelt, executive director, Huckleberry House
Angie Plummer, executive director, Community Refugee and Immigration Services
Refugee and Asylum Seekers
Nadia Kasvin, director, US Together
Dr. Rosaire Ifedi, associate professor of education, Ashland University
Lilly Cavanaugh, executive director, Ohio Latino Affairs Commission
Elizabeth Martinez, CEO, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio
Shyam Rajadhyaksha, president, Asian American Commerce Group
Nana Watson, president, Columbus NAACP
AJ Casey, executive director, Stonewall Columbus
Cindy Farson, director, Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging
Michelle Missler, director, Franklin County Office on Aging
Charles Hillman, CEO, Central Ohio Metropolitan Housing Authority
Zane Jones, veteran-services coordinator, Columbus Department of Human Resources
Individuals with Disabilities
Jed Morrison, CEO, Franklin County Board of Developmental Disabilities
Mark Fluharty, executive director, AFL-CIO Central Ohio Labor Council
Joanna Pinkerton, president and CEO, Central Ohio Transit Authority
Shannon Hardin, president, Columbus City Council