CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The U.S. Census Bureau is beginning its first major field operation for the 2020 Census this week in West Virginia and other states.
Census address listers will be going door-to-door to validate names and addresses in preparation for the actual counting that will take place next year.
“We’ll be checking the list of addresses that we have in our data base against what’s actually happening on the ground,” U.S. Census Bureau Geography Division Chief Diedre Bishop told MetroNews Monday. “This is really important because we use our address list to invite people to respond to the Census.”
Each address lister will have a laptop, Census bag and an official U.S. Census Bureau identification badge. Bishop said they’ll be knocking on door.
“I would ask that when they do that the people living in the houses please be kind and please be supportive of our addresses listers because they’re working to make sure we have a complete and accurate 2020 Census,” Bishop said.
Residents will receive the actual invitation to take part in the Census next March and for the first time residents can submit their information online. Residents can also register by phone or return the completed forms in the mail. Bishop will send counters into communities if information not returned. The Census estimates 60 percent of residents will return the information.
Bishop said the Census knows that areas of West Virginia have internet connectivity issues.
“We’re going to communicate the importance of responding to the Census and we’ll encourage people to use the telephone or paper questionnaire,” she said.
Bishop said the agency has worked a lot with the U.S. Postal Service since the last Census to update its address lists. She said the listers that began work Monday will help validate that information.
The Census tested its address listing verification in Beckley, Bluefield and Oak Hill last year. Bishop said the agency learned valuable information how the listers worked with the mapping application on their laptops and how they interacted with supervisors and how long it took them to compete a unit of work.
The U.S. Census takes place every 10 years. It’s mandated by the U.S. Constitution, determines congressional districts, supports redistricting of congressional, state and local districts, helps determine election precincts and school districts. It also determines allocation of over $675 billion in federal funds each year.