CLARKSBURG, W.VA. – Secretary of State Mac Warner’s office issued a release on Thursday suggesting that individuals who are home as part of Governor’s Stay Home order during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic use their free time to fulfill their civic duty by completing the 2020 U.S. Census.
The U.S. Census is the Federal agency responsible for counting every citizen living in the United States and its five territories.
According to Secretary Warner, households throughout West Virginia should have received U.S. Census Bureau mailing between March 12-20. For the first time, the Census will promote online response as the preferred method, as this will make it easier and more convenient for most people to respond, according to the release. However, if people chose to not respond online, the release states they can respond by phone or by mail.
“It is very important for every citizen to be counted during the Census process,” Warner said. “Federal funding to state and local communities, congressional representation, economic development grants, business recruitment, rural broadband investment, health centers, fire departments, Medicaid, highways, and a number of other programs depend on accurate counting of people within our state. I cannot over-emphasize how important the process is – there is a lot at stake for West Virginia and we want our count to be accurate.”
West Virginia Legislature will also use Census counts to draw boundaries for congressional and state legislative districts, according to the release. These boundary adjustments will take place in 2021.
In the release, Warner noted that completing the Census is required by law, pointing out that the need to conduct a Census was written into the U.S. Constitution by the United States’ Founding Fathers.
“If it was that important to them at the beginning of our nation, it should be important to us today,” Warner said. “If you do not respond, the U.S. Census Bureau will follow up in person to collect your response.”
Warner said that in return, the Census Bureau is required by law to protect a citizen’s answers, according to the release. The release stated that citizens’ responses are used only to produce statistics and that the Census Bureau does not disclose any personal information.
Secretary Warner’s office said in the release that for three days, between April 29 and May 1, Census workers will visit homeless shelters, soup kitchens and outdoor locations to count people who are currently experiencing homelessness.
Individuals are being asked to complete a Census questionnaire on or before April 1, according to the release.
To respond online, or for more information on the 2020 U.S. Census, click here.
“West Virginia is relying on everyone to participate in the Census,” Warner said. “You count. You matter.”