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Editorial: Still time to be counted in 2020 census

First, the good news. Harford County is just one of four Maryland counties to have a response rate of over 70% to the 2020 U.S. census. At a little over 72% as of the end of last week, Harford is still a bit off of its 81% response rate from the 2010 census.

Now, the bad news. That means roughly three out of 10 households still haven’t filled out the census form, which were mailed out in mid-March.

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The question, is why not?

Maybe you thought April 1, generally regarded as Census Day, was the deadline. Not so. The first of April is considered a guidepost for the count. When you answer the question how many people are living in your house, you should answer as of April 1. But census responses can still be submitted after that date.

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Maybe you lost the form that was mailed out. That’s OK. It’s never been easier to compete, even without the form. Visit my2020census.gov to fill out the questionnaire electronically.

Rather do it over the phone? Call 844-330-2020 to get started. If you call during a busy time, the Census Bureau now offers a callback option during periods of high call volume. Just provide the preferred number where you can be reached and the best time of day for a return call.

Maybe you just don’t think it’s that important. Yikes. The data collected during the 10-year census is used to determine how billions of dollars in federal funding is allocated. Every person counts when it comes to determining funding for things like schools, public safety, roads and hospitals.

How much money are we talking? More than $675 billion in funding is allocated every year by the federal government based on census data. In Maryland, census officials have estimated that to be in excess of $1,800 per person. Over the 10 years until the next census is taken in 2030, that’s $18,000 per person. When more than a quarter of the population doesn’t respond, that adds up quickly.

So if you haven’t already, fill out your census questionnaire and mail it in, go online to complete it or pick up your phone and call. And if you have already done so, great! But make sure to spread the word to friends and family to do the same. One way to do so: Share some of the humorous census videos from Harford County Government’s social media accounts with your own friends or followers.

Be counted, Harford County.

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