Unless federal courts say otherwise, in two weeks, the 2020 Census count will officially come to an end.
That looming deadline is prompting last-minute pushes by several different groups who want to make sure they're not left out: people of color and rural Coloradans.
The Colorado Department of Agriculture said Tuesday that seven rural counties have a response rate of 50% or less, including Baca and Cheyenne, on the Eastern Plains: Conejos, Costilla and Saguache counties in the San Luis Valley; Dolores County, in southwestern Colorado and Routt, in northwestern Colorado. Costilla is the lowest, at 27.6%.
Colorado's overall self-response rate is 69.1%, compared to the national response rate of 65.9%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. For total response rate, including from door-to-door, Colorado is at 84.9%, compared to the national average of 83.2%
Census takers in Colorado are currently following up with households that have not yet responded
A statement from the Colorado ag department said that "accurate census data from Colorado’s rural communities is vital, as the information is used as the reference for distribution of many federal dollars, including funding for the school lunch program, Medicaid and Medicare, highway construction, USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Women, Infants and Children Supplemental Nutrition Program, and more."
The Colorado Latino Democratic Caucus has also issued a call to Colorado Latinos to fill out the Census. In a September 13 video, in both English and Spanish, Democratic state Sen. Julie Gonzales of Denver said the census is "not a partisan issue. A failed census fails the whole country." She also reminded those watching that the information provided in the census is by law required to be strictly confidential. Democratic state Rep. Monica Duran of Wheat Ridge added that the information is to be kept confidential for 72 years. "Immigration and Customs Enforcement, law enforcement officer, courts, landlords and even your employers" cannot access this information.
The census does not ask for a Social Security number or "whether you are a citizen," said state Rep. Adrienne Benavidez of Adams County. They also provided tips on how to identify census workers who go door-to-door.
There are three ways to fill out the Census form:
- Online at 2020census.gov
- By phone at 844-330-2020 in English and 12 Non-English languages
- By mail using the paper questionnaire mailed to non-responding addresses
Field collection of census data is due to end on September 30, about a month earlier than originally scheduled. That's led to claims that the Trump administration is trying to politicize the count to favor Republicans. The New York Times reported in August that U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the House majority leader, called the change an attempt to undercount poor communities with large numbers of immigrants and ethnic minorities.
At least four lawsuits have been filed against the president and U.S. Census Bureau on how the census is being conducted. Colorado is part of a multi-state lawsuit filed in July, seeking to require that all persons be counted, including undocumented immigrants. A three-judge panel in the Southern District of New York, where the lawsuit was filed, ruled in favor of the states on September 10.
On September 5, A federal judge in Northern California granted a temporary restraining order against the Trump administration to force the Census Bureau to continue counting past September 30. A full hearing on the lawsuit, filed by the National Urban League, is scheduled for Thursday.