Every ten years, the U.S. Constitution requires a census to count every person living in the United States, yet too often rural communities are overlooked and undercounted. Nevada has historically been a “hard to count” state, and reaching Nevada’s rural communities like Elko County is an even greater challenge that we must rise above.
Several factors explain why Nevada’s rural communities are particularly at risk of falling through the cracks during this census season, including geography and a limited number of census workers due to the coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, most people respond to the census online, yet 53 percent of Nevada’s rural communities lack reliable broadband access. In Elko County alone, about 45 percent of responses have already been received, with just 40 percent of those responses coming from the internet.
If rural communities are undercounted, they are less likely to be fully represented. Accurate census population data helps rural Nevadans receive millions of dollars in federal funding each year. These dollars are used to improve highways, broadband infrastructure and public transportation options, fund rural rental assistance programs and improve the state’s water delivery and wastewater infrastructure. It also contributes to programs like Medicaid, Medicare, nutrition and transportation services for seniors, food stamps, the federal Pell Grant program, and career and technical education grants.
If every person participated in this year’s census, the state of Nevada could receive more than $6 billion annually. By contrast, studies suggest that every uncounted person could cost state, local and tribal governments at least $2,300 annually in lost funds. That equals to over $20,000 for each uncounted person for the full ten years.
Over the past decade, federal funding from the 2010 census awarded to Elko County has been used to build a new fire station, repave and install lighting for the main thoroughfare and begin constructing a downtown for the city of West Wendover. Additionally, Elko County and Nevada’s other rural communities benefit from census data economically, because businesses rely on it to determine where to expand operations.
The good news is how easy and fast it is to fill out the census!
The census survey was mailed to everyone’s homes in March. It can be completed and mailed back to the Census Bureau. Included in the package is a pre-paid mail back envelope with an address that reads: “U.S. Census Bureau National Processing Center; 100 Logistics Avenue; Jeffersonville, IN 47144.”
To participate in the census via telephone, simply call (844) 330.2020 for assistance in English, (844) 468.2020 for assistance in Spanish, (844) 478.2020 for assistance in Tagalog or visit this website for another language option.
For anyone who would like to submit a response online, please visit the United States Census 2020 at http://www.my2020census.gov and begin by clicking the “Start Questionnaire” button. Next, enter the 12-digit census ID that was included in the census envelop mailed in March. (If you can’t find it, click the button at the bottom of the login page that reads, “if you do not have a Census ID, click here.”) The website will ask a few additional questions about your address before continuing to the survey.
It’s more important than ever for every person living in the State of Nevada to participate in this year’s census survey.
Every federal dollar Nevada receives collectively helps our economy work to rebound from the financial damage caused by closing our businesses to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
An accurate count will help us bring much needed investment and representation to all of our communities and help contribute to building a stronger and more prosperous state. It will help make sure we get every tax dollar back from the federal government that we’re entitled to receive under the law.
Alongside state and local leaders in the Silver State, I’m going to do everything in my power to ensure every Nevadan is counted and heard.
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