While 2019 marked the end of a decade, it also signified the start of a new decade and the beginning of one of the U.S. Census Bureau’s most important missions: counting every person in the United States in the 2020 Census. The decennial census is the once-a-decade population and housing count of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Island Areas. The results of the census determine the number of seats for each state in the U.S. House of Representatives and are used to draw congressional and state legislative districts. Federal agencies use the results to distribute more than $675 billion in federal funds each year.
In Liberty County, community leaders have been working since March 2019 to get our community ready for the 2020 Census. Programs such as updating addresses for Census tracts, hiring an outreach coordinator and forming the Liberty County Complete Count Committee are activities that will make sure the right people are counted at the right place when the Census begins this spring.
The focus areas for Liberty County’s efforts include government, military, education/youth, business, community, faith-based and hard-to-reach populations. Individuals and organizations such as Liberty County, City of Flemington, City of Hinesville, City of Midway, City of Riceboro, City of Walthourville, Town of Gum Branch, Fort Stewart, Hinesville Area Pan Hellenic Council, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Incorporated, Liberty Regional Medical Center, NAACP of Liberty County, The Heritage Bank, GeoVista Credit Union, South Georgia Bank, Chick-Fil-A, Liberty County Chamber of Commerce, Coastal Georgia Minority Chamber, Hinesville Downtown Development Authority, Liberty County Development Authority, Coastal Area Action Authority, Dreambuilders Academy, First Presbyterian Christian Academy, Liberty County School System, Savannah Technical College, Georgia Southern University, Wreaths for Warriors Walk, Liberty County Historical Society, United Ministerial Alliance of Liberty County, Diversity Health Center, Hinesville Homeless Prevention Program, Hinesville Housing Authority, Liberty County Family Connections, Liberty County Manna House, Liberty County Re-Entry Coalition, Georgia Homeless Coalition, United Way and more have joined the efforts to motivate citizens to complete the Census by April 1. From February – April, these groups will be out in the community promoting the Census, hosting events and assisting Liberty County residents with completing the 2020 Census.
Here are some of the things you should know to make sure you are counted:
Why is the Census important? The U.S. Constitution mandates that a census of the population be conducted once every 10 years for the purpose of reapportioning seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Census data is also used to determine how more than $675 billion in federal funds are distributed back to states and local communities every year for services and infrastructure including health care, jobs, schools, roads and businesses. Each person equals roughly $2,300 per year for 10 years in funding. To miss out on counting individuals could jeopardize millions of dollars in federal funding, political representation and more.
How can I take the Census? The 2020 Census will be easier than ever. For the first time in history, the U.S. Census Bureau will accept responses online, but you can still respond by phone or mail if you prefer. Around March 12, you should receive a post card with a code to complete the Census. You can fill out the questionnaire online, call in on the phone or submit a paper copy when they are available. If you need assistance, several Census assistance centers will be available in Liberty County. From these responses, we will be able to see how our community has changed and use that data to plan for the future.
When can I respond to the Census? In March 2020, every household in America will receive a notice to complete the census online, by phone or by mail. You will be asked a few simple questions like name, age, sex and the number of people who live in your home, including children. In May, the U.S. Census Bureau will begin following up in person with households that have yet to respond. Census takers are Census Bureau employees and will provide proof that they are official government personnel. By July, Census workers will no longer go door-to-door for those who have not responded. By December 31, 2020, as required by law, the Census Bureau reports to the President of the United States the population count and the apportionment of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives to each state. Initial 2020 Census data will be made available to the public in 2021 on www.census.gov
Who will be counted? Everyone living in Liberty County, whether permanently or temporarily, when then form is completed. A great rule of thumb is to count every person with a name and a birthdate living in the county. Every body counts.
What about the military? In 2010, Liberty County was hugely undercounted for the Census because deployed soldiers were not part of the local count. It is estimated we were shorted about 14,000 people last time due to deployed soldiers not being counted as part of the community. For the 2020 Census, Fort Stewart, Ga active duty service members will be counted in the place where they live and sleep most of the time. Here is how it works: 1) If you are stationed in or living in the United States and NOT deployed or assigned to barracks, you should fill out a 2020 Census form. 2) If you are living in military barracks or dormitories, you should NOT fill out a 2020 Census form. A representative of the living quarters will fill out the census form and count you as part of the barracks. 3) If you live in military housing or off the installation at the time the Census is taken, you will be responsible for submitting your 2020 Census form online, by phone, or by mail. This will give us a better picture of how many military members we have in Liberty County and what we need to do to plan for their stay with us whether it’s for a deployment or a lifetime.
Is it safe and secure to complete it online? The Census is private and confidential for 72 years. Strict federal law protects your census responses. It is against the law for any Census Bureau employee to disclose or publish any census information that identifies an individual or business. Census Bureau employees take a lifelong pledge of confidentiality to handle data responsibly and keep respondents’ information private. The penalty for wrongful disclosure is a fine of up to $250,000 or imprisonment for up to 5 years, or both. No law enforcement agency (not the DHS, ICE, FBI, or CIA) can access or use your personal information at any time. Data collected can only be used for statistical purposes that help inform important decisions, including how much federal funding your community receives.
The Census Bureau has a robust cybersecurity program that incorporates industry best practices and federal security standards for encrypting data. The Census Bureau will never ask for your Social Security number, bank or credit card account numbers, money or donations, or anything on behalf of a political party.
How can I apply to work for the U.S. Census? Census jobs are handled by the U.S. Census Bureau, not the Liberty County Complete Count Committee. To apply to be a Census worker or for questions about employment, visit www.census.gov/jobs
How are you spreading the word? Members of the Liberty County Complete Count Committee are hosting various meetings, public events and assistance centers. Promotions will also be done through newspaper, television, radio and social media. If you have other ideas to promote the Census or can help spread the word, let us know by calling 912-334-2790.
How can I help? Complete your Census as soon as you are notified in March. Also, help us spread the word about “Every Body Counts in Liberty County” by sharing stories online, forwarding information to a friend and speaking about it with your family and co-workers. We are currently seeking sponsors for advertising and community events.
Who do I contact for more information? To discover more about the Census and what you can do to make sure every body counts in Liberty County, visit www.census.libertycountyga.com. You can also contact the Liberty County 2020 Census Outreach Coordinator Krystal Hart at 9123342790 or Krystal.firstname.lastname@example.org.