In the midst of 2020’s unrest and upheaval, the matter of being counted has been largely ignored. This is a Census year, and residents are being urged to complete a Census survey so that their communities will receive valuable federal funding for a myriad of services including education, health care, fire protection and highway maintenance. Population data gathered by the Census also helps determine each state’s representation in Congress.

“The importance of our participation is, we want our communities to get their fair share for funding of these programs over the next 10 years. We need to live with these numbers,” said Marilyn Stephens, assistant regional Census manager for the Atlanta region.

As of June 7, McDuffie County’s completed Census response rate was at 56.4 percent and Warren County’s rate was at 46.5 percent. Georgia’s response rate was at 56.8 percent and the national rate was at 60.7 percent.

“We want to bring that (response) up to 80 percent,” said Rev. David Walker, who serves as Census coordinator for McDuffie County.

Stephens said people should understand three points: the Census is easy to fill out, it’s important because its results could impact their quality of life, and the Census survey process is safe and secure.

People can fill out the Census survey by mail, online at 2020census.gov or over the phone.

Walker said if a resident would like to fill out the Census online but doesn’t have access to a computer they could contact Greater St. James AME Church in Thomson and schedule a time to use their computer lab with assistance if needed. Walker serves as church pastor.

“It takes 7 to 10 minutes to fill out the form,” he said.

Stephens said the Coronavirus pandemic has shown how important some of the federally funded programs are in every community across the U.S. such as school nutrition programs. These programs fed students when public schools shut down during the pandemic, and many of these food programs continue to feed children through the summer, according to Stephens.

She explained population statistics gathered by the Census are used in funding formulas. These formulas are used to support 140 supplemental programs like WIC for mothers and infants, Head Start for preschoolers, energy assistance and Meals on Wheels for the elderly, transportation services for seniors and the disabled, and the Pell grant for students.

The deadline to respond to the Census was moved to Oct. 31, because field operations were delayed due to COVID-19, Stephens said. Census takers will follow up on non-responses in the field at the end of July, she said.

“Regardless of the national deadline, your personal deadline should be today,” Stephens said.

She stressed that filling out the Census will not compromise citizens’ privacy as the data it collects is protected by law. This law mandates that the data can only be published in statistical form and that no person can be identified by name, according to Stephens.

“We can get information from other agencies, they just can’t get it from us. There should be no fear,” Stephens said.

Census information is sealed for 72 years, she explained.

“The last Census released in its entirety was the 1940 Census and it wasn’t released until 2012,” Stephens said. The 1950 Census is scheduled for release in 2022, she added.

To fill out the Census, visit 2020census.gov, call

844-330-2020 or mail in the Census paper questionnaire that arrived in the mail addressed to “resident.”

Census officials suggest the following tips to make filling out the Census easier:

•    When responding online, your survey “invitation” includes a Census ID number. If you lose it, you can use your address. You can go online on any device including a laptop, tablet or smart phone.  If you respond online, you must complete the Census in one sitting. You will not have the ability to save your progress and come back later to finish. 


•    You can respond in English and 12 different languages online and by phone. There will be a drop-down menu online, or a special phone number on your invitation. Other languages available include: Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Russian, Arabic, Tagalog, Polish, French, Haitian Creole, Portuguese and Japanese. The Census Bureau also offers webpages and guides in 59 non-English languages, including American Sign Language, and guides in Braille and large print. 


•    Use blue or black ink on the paper questionnaire. Do NOT use a pencil. You can write in the margins if you need space. Return the questionnaire in the envelope provided. Send the paper survey to: U.S. Census Bureau, National Processing Center, 1201 E 10th Street, Jeffersonville, IN 47132. 


•    Determine who is “person one” or head of household in your home. If you’re the only person in your home, then you are person one. If more than one person lives in your home, person one is generally someone whose name is on the mortgage or rental agreement and who is over the age of 15.

•    Count everyone who lives in your home including children. Count everyone who lives and sleeps in your home most of the time, including relatives, friends and others. If more than 10 people live in your home, respond online at 2020census.gov where there is plenty of space to respond.

•    Respond on your own now to avoid a visit from a census taker later this year.

the Census paper questionnaire that arrived in the mail addressed to “resident.”

Census officials suggest the following tips to make filling out the Census easier:

•When responding online, your survey “invitation” includes a Census ID number. If you lose it, you can use your address. You can go online on any device including a laptop, tablet or smart phone.  If you respond online, you must complete the Census in one sitting. You will not have the ability to save your progress and come back later to finish. 


•You can respond in English and 12 different languages online and by phone. There will be a drop-down menu online, or a special phone number on your invitation. Other languages available include: Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Russian, Arabic, Tagalog, Polish, French, Haitian Creole, Portuguese and Japanese. The Census Bureau also offers webpages and guides in 59 non-English languages, including American Sign Language, and guides in Braille and large print. 


•Use blue or black ink on the paper questionnaire. Do NOT use a pencil. You can write in the margins if you need space. Return the questionnaire in the envelope provided. Send the paper survey to: U.S. Census Bureau, National Processing Center, 1201 E 10th Street, Jeffersonville, IN 47132. 


•Determine who is “person one” or head of household in your home. If you’re the only person in your home, then you are person one. If more than one person lives in your home, person one is generally someone whose name is on the mortgage or rental agreement and who is over the age of 15.

•Count everyone who lives in your home including children. Count everyone who lives and sleeps in your home most of the time, including relatives, friends and others. If more than 10 people live in your home, respond online at 2020census.gov where there is plenty of space to respond.

•Respond on your own now to avoid a visit from a census taker later this year.

Recommended for you