The Illinois 2020 Census response rate is at 51% as of Tuesday last week. Morgan County leads the way in West Central Illinois with a self-response rate of 49.4%. West Central Illinois as a whole is one of the worst self-response regions in the state next to border counties in Eastern Illinois. Kristin Jamison of the Jacksonville Regional Economic Development Corporation says she’s encouraged that Morgan County is setting a good example for their neighbors. “We partnered with the City of Jacksonville and Morgan County to be sure that we really did a good job in reminding people how important the response to the census is in terms of federal funding. We have taken a multi-faceted approach that we have got the word out there through newspaper, radio, and social media. We have really tried to cover all the various channels of communication to be certain that people are looking for the census whether it’s in their mailboxes or they see a link or PSA online and move forward and actually complete their response.”
Jamison says that U.S. Census takers won’t be going door to door starting today because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The U.S. Census has released information that they have delayed that portion of the census. The non-responsive follow up was to have begun on April 9th and continue through July 31st. At this point, they have delayed that schedule so that census takers would begin going door-to-door May 7th and continue through August 14th. Clearly, that is subject to change. The Census Bureau is clearly taking the health of their workers and the general public into account.”
For the first time ever in the history of the census, anyone can complete it online with a special code mailed to their home on the U.S. Census Bureau website. Jamison says if you lost your code, you can still complete the census. “It’s very simple to complete. If you don’t have that code or you didn’t receive the post card, or you threw it away; you can still log on to My2020Census.gov and check the box that says you don’t have the code. Then, it will just ask you for your address and fill out your census information that way.”
Jamison says people shouldn’t be scared to fill out the census. “I know that people in the past have been nervous about what happens with this information. It is unlawful to use this information for anything other than producing numbers that help officials plan for the future. If you explain that you have a certain number of folks in your home, it is simply going into a percentage that is then delivered to help direct federal government dollars. There is nothing that can be used against you as a person or as a family. Your responses are also secure. The U.S. Census Bureau does not sell your information to third parties. I think awareness is key as to why the information is being collected and how important it is for your local community.”
While prison sentences for non-compliance with the census stopped in 1976, under Title 13 of the U.S. Code you can be fined for not filling out your census form or not complying with an in-person census taker. The last time a non-compliance court case happened for the census happened in 1970. Census Bureau representatives are expected to begin door-to-door census information checks next month.