Census 2020: Why city, state leaders are encouraging everyone to participate

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PEORIA, Ill. — Both city and state leaders are gearing up for the 2020 Census.

Illinois is expected to lose 1-2 seats in Congress after next year’s census due to population decline and people not participating in the census.

While Census Day isn’t until April 1, leaders want to remind you how participating in the census brings millions of dollars to services we need everyday.

“When you’re not counted, we don’t receive money for you. It’s as simple as that,” said Jackie Petty. Petty is on the Peoria Park District Board and is a Commissioner for the Illinois Complete County Commission.

The George Washington Institute for Public Policy reports the under count of Illinoisans in 2010 resulted in a loss of $952 per person of federal funding.

In 2015 alone, the state lost $122 million for every one percent of the population not counted in the 2010 census.

A low number of census participation doesn’t just mean less federal funding, it means less state and federal representation.

“Congressional seats depend on the population count,” Petty said.

President of the League of Women Voters Connie Romanus says for anyone leery about doing the census, your information is secure and won’t be shared with any other government agency.

“They’re mailed to addresses, they’re not names. They don’t know Joe Smith lives here, they only know that address is listed as a residence,” Romanus said.

“That’s really important to foreigners. Both documented and undocumented. To get through to them, they’re not gonna get thrown out of the country,” Petty said.

At-Large Peoria City Councilwoman Beth Jensen says the census will be a big focus for the council early next year.

“I’m sure as soon as we’re finished with the budget, this will be one of our priorities. I know it’s very important to the city and our funding to make sure that every person and resident is counted,” Councilwoman Jensen said.

Funding from the census goes toward infrastructure, medical facilities, schools, and more. It also helps businesses decide to move to the state.

The League of Women Voters has a meeting at 6:00 p.m. Thursday at the AMT Building in Peoria where census specialist Carol Riley is coming to speak about the populations who are at risk of not being counted.

Some of these populations are children under five, minorities, veterans, the elderly, and the homeless.

The census is now moving online as well. Romanus says she hopes this way of doing the census will be helpful for more people to get it done.

“My understanding is there’s seven questions, so it’s not real lengthy,” Romanus said.

You can see the Operational Plan, take a sample questionnaire, and learn more information about the Census 2020 here.

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