Planning for the nationwide census next year is already in the works in the Jacksonville area, with some of the process working differently than it did ten years ago.
The Jacksonville Regional Economic Development Corporation is working with the city and county in preparing for census time in Jacksonville next spring.
Kristen Van Aken Jamison, Vice President of Marketing & Communications for JREDC says that some of the planning for the census has been years in the making.
“Understanding the work that has already been done in preparation for the 2020 census, we had a meeting at Jacksonville Regional Economic Development Corporation last week that included city and county officials. Because of the L.U.C.A. program, which is the Local Update of Census Addresses, that was offered to city and county officials back in approximately 2017, a lot of work has been done electronically to ensure the most recent addresses of new homes, apartments, etc. have been loaded into the county system. So that they can be counted correctly and so that the right information can be sent to those residences.”
Jamison says that officials who have worked through past census programs say that this is expected to be the most seamless census taken since so much information has been collected and updated prior to the count taking place.
“This will be the first census where the majority of households will be able to respond electronically. So while there are a number of channels to record information about the number of people living in your household, this should be the simplest way for a number of folks who have the availability to respond electronically.”
Jamison says that there should only be a small number of the population that would need to mail their census responses, and a much smaller number that would have someone coming to their door.
Jamison says that since the resident information is up to date so early this time around, the big focus now is to get the word out promoting the census that Jacksonville and Morgan County have an accurate count.
Jamison said the need for accurate counting will be important to ensure the state of Illinois does not loose any Representatives in the U.S. House due to residents not being counted in the census.
Locally, Jacksonville Mayor Andy Ezard says that he does not anticipate the number of aldermen on the city counsel, or the size of wards in the city changing in 2021, due to numbers gathered in the 2020 census.
She says that the city has plans for area residents without internet access to be able to utilize the online questionnaire.
“For those who maybe do not have access to the internet within their household, the Cass Morgan Farm Bureau has iPads ready at their location for people to to be able to fill out the census form there. Also our local libraries will be open for that sort of a thing, and the Jacksonville Municipal Building is working to provide computers set up for filling out the census, as well as senior centers, and places like that so that if folks don’t have that kind of technology in their homes, there will be locations open to the public for those type of efforts.”
Jamison says its also important for college students who live on campus and their families to remember that students living on campus for a full school year, must declare their residence as the city in which they attend school, and not with their parents in another town or state to avoid a double count.
Jamison says residents will start to see and hear more information and reminders to make sure they are included in the 2020 census after the first of the year.