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Lewis and Clark County preparing for 2020 U.S. Census

Posted at 5:19 PM, Sep 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-23 20:03:05-04

HELENA —
It’s about six months until the date of the 2020 U.S. Census, and Lewis and Clark County and other local governments are getting ready for the big day.

A United States Census 2020 Complete Count Committee has been established in Lewis and Clark County and includes representatives from the County, Cities of Helena and East Helena, and various for-profit and non-profit organizations.

The Committee’s purpose is to make sure everyone knows about the 2020 U.S. Census and the importance of taking part in the event.

“It is incredibly important we reach everyone, including the difficult to reach populations in our community,” said Andy Hunthausen, Lewis and Clark County Commissioner and Co-Chair of the Complete County Committee. “This group of people have begun meeting to discuss a charter and path forward for making sure that our residents get the information they need to ensure they are counted.”

The census officially begins April 1, 2020 and people should start expecting information in the mail around mid March.

This will be the first time people can fill out the census online. People can also respond via phone or by paper, however only packets will be sent to individual housing units.

Jeni Garcin, Lewis and Clark County Communication and Community Outreach Coordinator, said the data collected by the census count is used in a number of ways, including how federal funding is spent.

“For every person that doesn’t get counted, it can cost state and local governments $2,000 per year or that equals $20,000 per decade,” explained Garcin. “So that’s a lot of money that we might not get for each person that doesn’t get counted.”

Census data on population shifts is also used by state officials to redraw the boundaries of their congressional and state legislative districts.

Gracin added getting an accurate count isn’t always easy in rural Montana.

“We’re a large county and there are a lot of places outside of Helena where we have to consider how we’re going to reach them,” said Garcin.

Lewis and Clark County are currently looking at hurdles they may face this coming spring and ways they'll get the word out about the 2020 U.S. Census.

The Census Bureau is currently recruiting people to work for the 2020 Census. More information can be found on their website.