In yet another case of West Virginia being on the lower rungs of the ladder, only about one in three households in the state have responded to the 2020 Census. State residents continue to shout they want their voices heard in national affairs, yet they ignore the easiest, fastest way to accomplish that.
Contrary to the opinion of many West Virginians who see the Census as yet another government intrusion on their privacy, the data gathered is necessary — and not really that intrusive.
It’s of the utmost importance that West Virginians — indeed, all people in the country — participate in the Census. You are not asked for your phone number, social security number, bank account information, citizenship status or your driver’s license information. You’re not asked about your religious beliefs, amount of income, or political affiliation. The government simply wants to know how many people live in your house.
Among other things, the Census determines the number of seats West Virginia has in the House of Representatives, which is based on a state’s population — as are the state’s number of Electoral College votes.The information also helps to allocate more than $1.5 trillion in federal funds every year that are distributed to states, local communities and businesses.
An undercount of the population can lead to loss of funds for school breakfast and lunch programs, senior programs, college tuition assistance, broadband development, Medicaid and road funding, to name just a few things that are made possible by federal funds. Did you know there are well over a hundred federal programs that use the Census data to determine how to allocate money?
As Gov. Jim Justice said recently, “County commissioners, city people, anybody and everybody, help me. We’ve got to get ourselves counted, or we’re just going to leave tons and tons of money on the table.”
Time is running out. Fill out the paper form or do it online; either takes just a few minutes. Stand up and be counted.