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US Census worker collecting data while going door-to-door. Source: US Census Bureau

Census Update: Census Takers begin visiting non-responding households this week

Households have until October 31st to respond to the 2020 US Census. However, census takers will begin following up with households that haven’t responded yet. According to local census officials, census workers will begin going door-to-door Thursday, July 30th, to collect information from Whatcom County households that have not self-responded.

Local census officials pointed out in a recent email that concerns about citizenship status may be preventing some who should be included in the census from participating.

Under the law, every person residing in the U.S. during the census, regardless of status, must be counted. We want to be clear with our communities that there is NO citizenship question on the 2020 Census. It is illegal for census answers to be shared with ICE, other law enforcement, public assistance programs, or other agencies, and cannot be used to identify people for deportation.

Whatcom Council of Governments Census Coordinator (July 28, 2020)

City, county and state governments and tax districts are very interested in achieving the highest participation in the census because the results often determine how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding will be distributed over the next decade. If participation is low and their jurisdictions end up under-represented in the data, federal funding may be inadequate to meet the needs of the population.

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The Census Bureau announced that it will begin email reminders in areas with less than 50% response rates. Qualifying Whatcom County areas include east county locations, Birch Bay, Point Roberts and Lummi Island according to local census officials.

Officials acknowledged sending emails is contrary to earlier official messaging that said the US Census Bureau would not email people regarding the census.

Census workers (enumerators) will visit non-responding households and interview residents to collect census information. All census workers speak English and many are bilingual. If a census worker does not speak a householder’s language, they will have materials to help identify the correct language and assist the person to answer the census, officials say.

Census workers will have a valid government ID with their photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark and an expiration date on the badge (example below).  They will also have a census bag and an iPad or mobile phone with them.

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Sample of U.S. Department of Commerce census worker ID. Source: Whatcom Council of Governments Census Coordinator

Anyone wishing to confirm a census worker’s identity can call the Los Angeles Regional Census Office at 213-314-6500.

If no one is home during the visit, the census worker will leave a notice on the door with information about how to respond online, by phone or by mail.

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