A Conversation about the 2020 Census with the Statewide Coordinator

This week’s feature is going to be a bit different from previous weeks. Rather than sitting with a local for a conversation, I (Anthony Crosby) spent part of an afternoon with two individuals involved with the 2020 Census. You could say that it’s their business to make sure our community knows about and participates in our state’s Census. I had a wonderful conversation with them; they were lovely people.

I want to share some of the information we discussed with you all. Being a community that’s properly informed on something as out of the ordinary as a Census can lead to educated decisions that could have a long-term effect on us all as neighbors, business owners, parents, and more! We here at AAT are never going to tell you what you need to do—unless it’s going out and supporting one of our excellent business sponsors, of course. Go Re/Max GoldHeartwood Wellness, B3 Glass, and Envy Offroad! In today’s case, we simply want to pass along information so you can have a clear understanding of what exactly you may be asked to participate in over the next couple of months.

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Following my coffee time with the two individuals from our state Census, I decided to have a follow-up conversation with the statewide coordinator for the Nevada 2020 Census, Kerry Durmick. Kerry is able to act as a spokesperson for the Census, so I figured she’d be the perfect person to receive information to be passed on to our readers. She and her staff have been working hard for the past few months all across the state, making preparations for the upcoming event, and we’re thankful she made time to speak with us.

I asked Kerry five big picture questions, and here is what she had to say.

What is the Census? 

“The Census is a complete count of the United States that happens every ten years. The Census will play a role in Federal funding here in Nevada because for every man, woman, and child who fills out a form, about twenty-thousand dollars over the next ten years will go directly back into the state of Nevada. Each person is worth about twenty-thousand dollars to the state over those ten years, so that funding will help pay for things such as housing, infrastructure, transportation, health care, and education.

“Every single person who is living in Nevada should be counted in the Census. This includes people who are working here on a traveling visa and commuter students. Everyone from babies to people who are one hundred and ten should be counted.”

What is your team’s role in the Census?

“The US Census Bureau has a state team on the ground, but my team, Nevada Census 2020 Operation, [is] only focused on our state and its count. We are doing things a little differently from the Census Bureau; they are definitely in charge of the count, but we are trying to assist by filling in gaps with our hard-to-count communities. These would be communities of color, tribal communities, children under five, LGBTQ, veterans, and even rural communities would be considered hard to count. So, we’re out attending and hosting events. We’re also setting up computer stations across the state with staff who will help those who need it when it comes to filling out their Census form.”

How does one participate in the Census? 

“March twelfth is the first time you can go online and fill out your Census form. So, on that day, a lot of Nevadans will start receiving their invitations to participate. They’ll be invited to participate by phone, email, or online. You can pick any way you’d like to do it. By April first, every person should have received those invitations, but if someone has not, they should reach out to us and let us know so we can get them counted. The US Census Bureau may have a Census taker come to your door after May thirtieth to assist you if you have not responded to your Census. If you would not like for someone to come to your door, my advice would be to fill out the form by April thirtieth.”

What about privacy?

“The Census is confidential. As soon as anybody responds, in any form, your information becomes a statistic; you are no longer an individual when it comes to keeping that data. Also, the Bureau has set up a lot of privacy and safety measures on its website this year, and they are legally not allowed to share your information with any other federal agency. There’s actually a fine of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars and five years of prison time if that is broken. Your information and data are definitely secure.

“Your immigration status does not matter in the Census; there is not a citizenship question on the form. The questionnaire will also not ask about your social security number, credit card information, political affiliation, or any financial information. Keeping that in mind is actually a good way to watch out for Census scams.”

Do you have any final thoughts you’d like to share? 

“Whether they live in an urban or rural environment, this Census is about representing all people! Over the next ten years, the results of this Census could affect everyone. It can affect our education system, transportation, and even our senior care. This is why we ask everyone to participate and get involved.

“We encourage residents to visit the Nevada Census 2020 website at www.census.nv.gov to learn more. Readers can also follow Nevada Census 2020 on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.”

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See you around, Elko

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