Published on June 27th, 2019 | by Georgia Curran0
Why an Accurate Census Count is Pivotal for Ohio’s Future
7/3/2019 Update: Great news! The Trump Administration has decided to retreat on its demands to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census. There was some push-back from the administration following the Supreme Court’s temporary ruling against including the citizenship question, but the administration has given up the fight and census printing will begin shortly.
Conducted once every 10 years, the U.S. census is by far the most accurate measure of America’s population. However, the census is much more than a nationwide head count.
Census data determines “adequate” levels of funding for many public programs and services
Data gathered from the census determines states’ and local communities’ eligibility for billions of dollars in government funding.
Based on data from the last census, Ohio received over $33 billion dollars from the federal government in 2016. These dollars pay for highways, foster care, special education programs in schools, aid for low-income students and families, resources for communities (like fire departments, school lunch programs, hospitals, etc.), programs like Medicaid and SNAP, and many other things.
A state’s level of funding eligibility by the federal government is in part determined by its population size. Thus an accurate census count is crucial for ensuring Ohio and its local communities get the dollars we need to tackle problems such as the opioid epidemic and our black maternal and infant mortality crisis.
The census influences our state’s power at the ballot box
An accurate census count also ensures accurate political representation for our state. Especially if Ohio’s population is not fully counted, we could lose one or more seats in Congress and in turn lose more political influence, power, and funding. Ensuring that all people are included in the census guarantees that Ohioans don’t miss out on having the political power we’re entitled to by the constitution.
A complete, accurate census count ensures that our votes have an impact. The urgency of a complete census count for the health of Ohio’s democracy is underscored when you consider how gerrymandered Ohio is, to begin with.
Why the citizenship question undermines a complete census count
Though the census is vital to the success of our nation and its people, the current administration has added an element of fear to the process. The possibility of a citizenship question on the 2020 census threatens the accuracy of the count. This addition is not only unnecessary, but it also discourages people from participating in the census for fear of incriminating themselves.
The census should collect data to be used for the good of our communities, and this sort of question does the opposite. Undocumented immigrants (and minority groups in general) are already more likely to be miscounted and underrepresented in census results. Adding a citizenship question would only further disadvantage marginalized communities and is likely to intimidate and push undocumented people deeper into the shadows.
Ohio needs an accurate, complete census count.
Urban Institute projections predict that up to 73,600 Ohioans could be missed in the 2020 census. The repercussions of this miscount would fall mainly on minority groups, who could lose community funding and necessary resources.
All across Ohio, advocacy groups for women, kids, local communities, and many more are advocating for an accurate count in 2020. State and community leaders should provide the best possible opportunities for residents to participate. This means providing funding and staffing to support census efforts.
It is in everyone’s best interest for the census to be accurate, fair, and successful. This is not a political question, but rather a question of maintaining the health and safety of our communities and people. All Americans should have the same opportunity to contribute to the 2020 census and reap the benefits.
Make sure your voice is heard. Say #CountMeIn by signing the Census Count pledge to advocate for a fair and accurate count.