In an effort to ensure the accurate statewide count of the upcoming 2020 census, Gov. Phil Scott recently announced the formation of the Vermont 2020 Complete Count Committee.
“A complete count of our population is essential for the fair representation of Vermonters at all levels of government,” Scott said last month in a statement. “The results of the census inform important decisions of federal and state government, impacting our ability to grow the economy, make Vermont more affordable and protect the most vulnerable in all 251 towns.”
The committee will consist of both private and public stakeholders in the state and will include state and municipal government officials, state legislators, community organizations and representatives of populations that are allegedly undercounted in the census.
Potentially overlooked groups include young children, highly mobile persons, racial and ethnic minorities, non-English speakers, low income persons, persons experiencing homelessness, undocumented immigrants, those who distrust the government, LGBTQ individuals, persons with mental or physical disabilities, and people who do not live in traditional housing, according to a news release from the governor’s office.
Scott said the committee also is charged with identifying barriers to full participation in next year’s census, and will create an outreach plan to remove barriers in the way of completing a precise count.
The executive order says the committee will be comprised of 30 or fewer individuals appointed by the governor, and will include the heads of various state agencies, or their designees. Other members will be select representatives from sectors or groups including municipal government, minority and immigrant communities, homeless shelter providers, senior citizens, local businesses, and more.
Public outreach strategies, Scott noted, will include state and school-based initiatives as well as non-profit community-based partnerships. This will include a multi-lingual, multi-media “Complete the Census” campaign.
The Vermont State Data Center, based at the University of Vermont’s Center for Rural Studies office (through the national State Data Center Program) will be active during the upcoming census.
The State Data Center Program, according to the UVM Center for Rural Studies website, is “a link between the states and the U.S. Census Bureau to make data available locally to the public through a network of state agencies, universities, libraries, and regional and local organizations.”
The U.S. Constitution mandates that the U.S. Census Bureau must conduct a confidential count of all people residing in the United States once every 10 years. Census results have both national and local impacts.
For example, census data is used to set the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Census data also helps allocate the amount of federal taxpayer dollars returned to states through federal grants and programs.
According to a report released by George Washington University, Vermont received about $4,000 per resident in federal taxpayer funds from 55 federal programs in 2016. The allocation was made using data from the 2010 census.
Lou Varricchio is a freelance reporter for True North Reports. Send him news tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.