It’s going to come down to a decision of the U.S. Supreme Court, but City Clerk Sergio Cornelio said all signs seem to be pointing to a one-month extension of the Census 2020 effort – making it likely end on Oct. 31 instead of last week on Sept. 30.
Cornelio said it has been a topsy-turvy Census year that started out rocky even before COVID-19 hit – with the Supreme Court having to rule on the once-contentious Citizenship question that was proposed to be put on the questionnaire but ruled Unconstitutional at the first of the year. Now, the high court might look at the deadline issue, or it may choose not to look at it – meaning that the lower court decision of extending it to Oct. 31 will stand.
“This seems like the effort has been dragging on for years and not months,” said Cornelio of the uncertainty in this year’s Census. “We are keeping an eye on it, but we’re moving forward. Right now it’s under and indefinite extension that would end on Oct. 31. We’re formulating a plan and have another idea of what we’ll do for another literature drop. We’re not spending any money just yet but we’re going forward with a plan and the community groups are really doing a good job…We’ve been advised to keep working until they tell us not to do so.”
The Census 2020 in Everett has been a tough sell during COVID-19, and an effort that started with a major push by the state and regional leaders in assistance of local leader Cornelio. However, grand plans to reach out and hit populations never counted previously to get the participation rate up from 10 years ago fell flat when COVID-19 prevented people from gathering. Numbers were very low for a time, but efforts in the last month have brought participation up to the levels of 2010 – about 60 percent. With an extra month though – and getting official enumerators out to school distribution sites – Cornelio said he hopes they can get beyond the 2010 numbers and closer to what the true population of Everett is.
The Census numbers are directly tied to funding for schools, roads, sidewalks, hospitals and other community needs. Cornelio estimated that every person counted represents $2,400 a year in federal funds – and on the flip side every person missed is a loss of the same amount.
That’s why he said they are enthusiastic about getting out and getting more people counted this month.
“The Census enumerators are all in a holding pattern now,” he said. “You’ll see an increase in the numbers, but many think it’s over because they were told it ended last week. I want to get this going quickly so we can do another robo-call to tell people we have time and then get our volunteers and community groups out there again pounding the pavement to get our numbers up.”