Chisago County has committed to counting its constituents.

The county’s commissioners approved the establishment of the 2020 Chisago County Census Complete County Committee as part of its meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 6.

That vote came after Jim Accurso, Minnesota partnership specialist from the Chicago Region of the U.S. Census Bureau, presented the Community Partnership and Engagement Program.

The U.S. Constitution requires a census be taken every 10 years, with census information used to determine the apportionment and number of legislative districts as well as the distribution of $675 billion in federal funding each year.

“This will also affect the reapportionment of many boundaries, such as commissioner zones for this county as well as House and Senate seats on the state level,” Accurso said.

Accurso said the census has been redesigned for 2020.

“One reason for the change is a more mobile population – renters move much quicker than they used to, and they use cellphones more than land lines,” he said. “We’re also asked to do more with less, funding-wise, and there is a greater distrust in government.

“Also there has been a decline in the response rate to surveys in general, so we know we will need to do more to reach out to people. Our research shows that we will need to contact some people as many as seven times before we break through.”

The census is address-based, which means the process will begin with a letter sent to addresses next March. Accurso said the Census Bureau has worked with the U.S. Postal Service and with state and local government to update its address database in preparation for the survey.

“Not every home is going to get a paper questionnaire,” Accurso said. “Every home will get either a letter or a card that directs them to go online or call to answer the survey questions. We will work with homes that want to get a paper questionnaire.”

The census “date” is April 1, meaning forms should be filled out based on residence on that date. Accurso said that is an important consideration for residents such as “snowbirds” who move to warmer climates during the winter months.

“Snowbirds need to know that, if they fill out the form in Florida or Arizona but live in Chisago County, they need to indicate that Chisago County is their primary residence,” he said.

Accurso said the Census Bureau has been hiring for its peak operations period, which begins in January. Among the tasks these temporary employees will complete are filling out surveys for addresses that do not respond to the initial inquiry as well as filling out surveys for group homes, counting the homeless, and other duties.

He encouraged potential job seekers to go to 2020census.gov/jobs and fill out a 33-question assessment that would place applicants in the job that suits them best.

For more information on the census, visit https://bit.ly/2rzQCe0.

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