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Officials push for last-minute census numbers

With the end of the 2020 census coming near, officials in Franklin County are working on last-minute efforts to increase local figures.

As of July 1, 54 percent of Franklin County had responded based on the 2010 census numbers, which is significantly below where the numbers were expected to be.

“By this point, we were hoping for at least 80 percent,” said Franklin County census committee member Katernia Cole-Coffey. “Right now we are just trying to make every effort we can to get our numbers up.”

Franklin County Census Committee senior coordinator Richard Rowland said over the past month, the census count has increased less than 1 percent.

“We honestly believe there are more people living here than the 2010 numbers say, but right now the census results are not reflecting that,” Rowland said. “We have got to do something to change that.”

The results of the census determine how federal and state funding is distributed for the next 10 years based on population.

“Right now, with the way things are going, we are set to lose money because based on the census numbers, the population has shrunk,” Rowland said.

Rowland said the original hope was that there would be more than a 100 percent response rate, to account for new members of the Franklin County community.

He said one of the ways he expects that the population has grown is in the Latino community.

Cole-Coffey said the census committee is making special efforts to reach the Latino population and educate on the importance of the census. “Especially to some of our Latino members who might be afraid of the government knowing they are here, it is really difficult to convince them to take the census,” Cole-Coffee said. “They are afraid we are going to have ICE agents show up, but that is not the case at all.”
All information collected in the census is used only in determining the size of the population and will not be released for 75 years.

Cole-Coffey said Franklin County representatives are going house-to-house to meet with those who have not self-reported for the census.

“We do not necessarily want to go house-to-house, but at this point we are having to do whatever we can to make sure people are filling out their census,” Cole-Coffey said.

Rowland said the census was originally expected to end in August, but because of the virus, the date is expected to be pushed back to the end of October.

“We want everyone to go tell just a few people about the census and ask them to take it,” Rowland said. “If those people tell a few people and the message keeps spreading that way, before long, we will be at the numbers we want. It just takes everyone making that effort to educate about how important it is to take the census.”