CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Complete Count Commission established last month by Gov. Jim Justice to raise awareness and encourage the participation of the 2020 U.S. Census is looking at all the way to get the best count.

The commission met on Friday including officials organizations such as the United Way, Municipal League, Salvation Army, Red Cross, state Chamber of Commerce, and veterans organizations to establish the groundwork in what all pointed to as a crucial count.

“If we leave somebody out, it’s going to hurt our availability to get community block grant dollars, opioid dollars and critical infrastructure dollars that come into our state that is driven by our population,” U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) told the media on Friday.

Shelley Moore Capito

Capito opened up the meeting held at the state Capitol Complex in Charleston. Along with the federal dollars in danger, Capito touched on two other areas that are concerning: losing a congressional seat and the Census’ focus on technology counting with the state’s struggle in broadband.

Those voices in Washington for the state on different committees are needed now more than ever, according to her.

“We have three members of Congress that are critical, they are on critical committees in the House of Representatives. When you put our three up against the 60 that are in California, if we lose one we are losing another important voice,” Capito said.

Census officials at the meeting on Friday showed all the ways that someone can participate in the Census including plenty of options online. Capito said those are great but the focus needs to be on those who don’t have that access.

“We are an underserved area,” she said. “We have a lot of people who do not have broadband and are not accustomed to using it. I want to make sure those people that wouldn’t get on a website and count themselves are going to be counted.

Those are ones that need to have the services.”

The Census officially kicks off on April 1 of next year. Joe DiBartolomeo, one of the Governor’s Designees to the Complete Count Commission said they are working hard with those larger organizations to make people feel safe but know it’s a must.

“It’s a requirement by federal law that you comply with that and the information you put on there is not shared by any other organization in the federal government. There are no enforcement folks that have access to this information,” he said.

Secretary of State Mac Warner and state Senate President Mitch Carmichael attended Friday’s meeting.