Around Texas, a last push for the 2020 census

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With a week to go before counting for the census ends, many communities around Texas are making a last-minute push to try and get as much participation as possible before September 30. An incomplete census in Texas will have dire ramifications, including the potential loss of billions in federal funding.

The current census response rate in Texas is below the national average, according to a tracker from the Census count. Texas has a response rate of 61.9 percent, while the national average is at 66.2 percent. Several counties in the south and along the border of Texas, including Real, Edwards and Terrell, currently have response rates below 30 percent.

The 2020 census, as well as the Census Bureau, has been mired in controversy since the Trump administration’s attempt to add a citizenship question. Now, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the census is facing even more chaos after the Census Bureau announced they would halt counting a month ahead of schedule. That decision has prompted a number of lawmakers and community leaders to make a mad dash during the final week of counting.

In Dallas, County Commissioner Dr. Elba Garcia is spearheading a campaign called “Time’s Up to Stand up. Get Counted.” It is a partnership with several community organizations to increase the census count in Dallas County.

At a news conference, Dr. Garcia stressed the importance of getting as many Dallas residents as possible to complete their census. “There are billions of dollars at stake in federal funding for programs that so many in our community depend on for life-saving health care, for education that opens doors, for infrastructure that keeps our economy running, and many other resources.”

The campaign includes a seven-day push where organizations and groups in Dallas will canvass neighborhoods that have traditionally been hard to count. They are also setting up “Census Live” events outside restaurants and churches, which would include WiFi. One of the biggest barriers for imputing census information for many communities, especially those of color, is the lack of access to an internet connection.

Dr. Garcia was joined at the news conference by Ed Turner, the 2020 Census Coordinator for Dallas. The current Dallas County response rate for the census is 62.9 percent. In 2010, the response rate was 64.6 percent.

A survey from the George Washington Institute of Public Policy showed that even a 1 percent undercount in Texas, would cost the state more than $290 million in federal funding over 10 years. An undercount also jeopardizes the number of additional congressional seats Texas could gain.

Photo: Bill Oxford/Getty Images

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