On March 13, most Americans should have a survey form in their mailbox as the 2020 census officially gets underway. In Burnet County, Census Field Supervisor Herb Krasner of Spicewood and a team of yet-to-be-hired census takers will gear up to help insure every resident is accounted for in the nation’s 24th census.
Mandated by Article 1, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, the census is taken every 10 years, an exercise that began in 1790. Results are used to draw district lines for elected officials and determine distribution of government funds. Media focus will be on Census Day, April 1, the day the U.S. Census Bureau hopes everyone will fill out their census survey form.
Federal law requires every person over 18 years of age, whether a citizen of the country or not, fill out a census survey. Those who refuse could be fined up to $100. Giving false information on a census form could result in a fine of up to $500.
Krasner recently told The Picayune Magazine that his job is to keep that from happening to anyone living in Burnet County.
Burnet County U.S. Census Field Supervisor
MY PERSONAL GOAL is 100 percent participation. The biggest challenge to that is going to be the rural population, especially those who don’t have street addresses. A lot of people only have (post office) boxes. The census does not mail to P.O. boxes. We will be working with the county 911 call center to locate people in the hard-to-find rural areas.
THIS YEAR, FOR THE FIRST TIME, you can fill out the survey online. In my mind, you have three opportunities to respond in normal ways. Fill out a survey and drop it in the mail. Go online and fill out the survey. Or, you can call 800-354-7271. You can do it over the phone, and they will have multiple language experts available.
EVERYONE WILL GET MULTIPLE MAILINGS. A second letter will arrive the week of March 16-24. Postcard reminders will arrive between March 26 and April 3. A fourth letter will arrive around April 8 with a final mailing April 20.
WE WON’T HAVE TO KNOCK ON YOUR DOOR if you respond one of those three ways. Anyone who has not responded by May 13 will get a visit from a census enumerator. That’s what we’ll be doing over the months of May, June, and July. The deadline to have everyone counted is July 31.
WE WILL START VISITING nursing homes and assisted-living centers in April, all group places. We will start going into rural areas in May. It’s going to be tough. The state didn’t allocate any money for counting. Neither did Burnet County. The only way to do the marketing effort is through ourselves. I can come to community organizations and make presentations. We’ll be counting on the local media, too.
THE QUESTIONS ARE EASY. The survey does not ask about immigration or citizenship. They ask how many people live at your address as of April 1, 2020, what kind of dwelling you live in — house, apartment, mobile home — your age, ethnicity, name.
I’M A RETIRED (UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS) PROFESSOR. I’ve been retired for three years now, and I volunteer a lot. I try to find things to do that are meaningful, and I think the census is important. I help out at The Helping Center a lot. I also do consulting work on the side along with my wife, Judy. We’ve been married 48 years. She volunteers, too, mainly in our church. She sings in the St. Peter’s Lutheran choir.
THE CENSUS IS STILL HIRING. They started in November. You can apply online at 2020census.gov. They are paying between $16 and $20 an hour. The framers of our Constitution chose population as the basis for sharing political power, not wealth or land. Therefore, I want to ensure a full and accurate count for my community. You’re welcome to join me if you want to help.
IMPORTANT U.S. CENSUS NUMBERS
April 1: Census Day
308.7 million: U.S. population as of 2010 census
327.2 million: Current population as of 2018
December 31, 2020: 2020 Census totals delivered to U.S. president
March 31, 2021: Census Bureau sends redistricting counts to states