Three Forks Voice - Connect With Your Community!

By Scott MacFarlane
Gallatin County Commissioner 

Guest Editorial: Importance of 2020 Census

 

January 22, 2020



A wide range of folks call Gallatin County home.

From those in our bigger cities of Bozeman and Belgrade, to our smaller towns of West Yellowstone, Three Forks and Manhattan, to those in unincorporated areas like Big Sky, Gallatin Gateway and Four Corners, and everywhere in between.

And each and every one of you counts.

That is why we want to stress just how important it is to take part in this year's Census.

Census numbers can impact the roads you drive on, the schools your kids attend, the medical benefits you receive, the housing opportunities in your community. And much, much more. Having accurate Census data is imperative to help adequately fund hundreds of federal programs Montanans will use for the next decade.

This year marks the first time in Census history people can respond online in addition to the more traditional mail and phone responses. Internet self-response begins in March. The work to count our communities extends into the summer with Census takers visiting households that did not return a questionnaire by online response, mail, or phone.

So why exactly is an accurate Census count so important to Montanans? Funding and representation.

For every Montana resident counted, a Census study estimates the state will receive almost $20,000 per person over the decade. That money flows across Montana counties for vital projects like highway planning, medical assistance, educational programs and infrastructure, among many others.

The Census count also serves as the keystone for our representative government in two different ways.

First, it determines the number of representatives each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives. Based on Montana's consistent growth and projected population declines in other states, Montana could be on the path toward gaining a second representative (something we had until 1990.) Secondly, Census data is used in redistricting to draw lines that link representatives to their constituents for the next decade.

This year's Census will have wide-ranging impacts in Montana and here in Gallatin County, we have a committee working to get the word out about the importance of participating.

We are one of 97 Complete Count Committees across the state of Montana. Our group includes dedicated volunteers from the City of Bozeman, Gallatin County, Montana State University and more with the goal helping get as accurate of a count as possible during this Census.

Getting every person counted, especially in a state as unique and expansive as our Treasure State, poses many challenges. We hope that with the help of partners in communities across Gallatin County, we can get as accurate of a count as possible.

You'll be hearing more from us in the coming weeks and months as Census Day nears. In the meantime, please visit census.mt.gov for more information! And get ready to "Max the Count."

 

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