Montanans can still respond to census by Oct. 31

| October 14, 2020 12:00 AM

Clark Fork Valley Press

The Montana Department of Commerce and the State Complete Count Committee are reminding Montanans that there is still time to respond to the 2020 Census.

Recent actions by the federal government have created confusion about when the U.S. Census Bureau will end its decennial counting operations, but the deadline is Oct. 31.

“The most important thing to know is that Montanans can and should respond to the 2020 Census now while there’s still time,” said Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney, the chairman of the Montana Complete Count Committee. “The next 10 years of Montana’s future depend on a complete count – our fair share of federal funding, accurate representation in local school and voting districts, and even the addition of a second U.S. House seat. So don’t wait: do it now!”

Sept. 24, a U.S. District Court judge ordered the U.S. Census Bureau to continue its 2020 operations through Oct. 31. As of today, that order stands despite attempts to appeal the ruling. The U.S. Census Bureau announced recently it intends to defy that court order and wind down operations by Oct. 5, but a federal district court ruled that the Bureau must comply with the court’s order and continue operations through Oct. 31.

That means the deadline for the 2020 Census remains Oct. 31 per the federal district court’s order.

The state of Montana will continue to support outreach and promotional efforts to make sure Montanans know why it’s so important to respond to the Census.

Using a total of $660,500 in funding allocated by Governor Bullock from the Coronavirus Relief Fund, the Montana Department of Commerce and its statewide Census partners are hosting Census Be Counted drive-thru events, have launched multiple, targeted and statewide marketing campaigns, including the ongoing 2020 Census State Championship, and conducted direct outreach to low-response communities across the state.

Disruptions from COVID-19, continued changes to the U.S. Census Bureau’s counting operations, the size and rural nature of Montana’s landscape and other factors have put Montana behind other states in the decennial count.

Currently, Montana’s self-response rate is 60.1 percent, compared to the national average of 66.6 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Including door-to-door counting by federal Census workers, the total number of Montana households enumerated so far is 96.6 percent, compared to the national average of 98.9 percent.

Montanans who have not yet filled out the 2020 Census should respond now and check in with friends, family and neighbors to encourage them to respond today at MY2020CENSUS.GOV or by calling 1.844.330.2020.