When it comes to the 2020 census, three counties in Northern New York are not keeping up with many others.

Of the 62 counties in the state, St. Lawrence ranks 41st in providing the U.S. Census Bureau with the demographic information it needs. Jefferson County chimes in at 56th, and Lewis County comes in at 57th.

It’s apparent that most people are now concerned with the latest developments in the novel coronavirus pandemic. We’re all affected by it, and we all need to do our part to reduce the likelihood that the infection will spread. So it’s understandable that filling out census data isn’t on top of everyone’s to-do list.

However, it’s vital that we all participate in the census. This will influence how congressional and legislative districts are drawn throughout the state and how money from the federal government is allocated to New York. The stakes here are very high.

“Regional director Jeff Behler — who leads census operations for New York, seven other states and Puerto Rico — thought it was time to again remind folks in the north country to make sure that everyone gets counted. In a phone call on Friday, Mr. Behler said he realizes that COVID-19 is probably keeping those numbers down in the north country,” according to a story published Monday by the Watertown Daily Times. “Another factor is that the north country is a rural area and there are a lot of [post office] boxes, so many residents probably haven’t received mailings, he said. In March, the U.S. Census Bureau mailed out invitations to participate in the census and then a reminder to get it done.”

There are always glitches in the census conducted every 10 years. This time around, though, the obstacle is much more serious. But we still need to carry out this responsibility as a nation.

“The U.S. Constitution empowers the Congress to carry out the census in ‘such manner as they shall by Law direct’ (Article I, Section 2). The founders of our fledgling nation had a bold and ambitious plan to empower the people over their new government. The plan was to count every person living in the newly created United States of America and to use that count to determine representation in the Congress,” according to information on the Census Bureau’s website. “Enshrining this invention in our Constitution marked a turning point in world history. Previously, censuses had been used mainly to tax or confiscate property or to conscript youth into military service. The genius of the founders was taking a tool of government and making it a tool of political empowerment for the governed over their government.”

Many people are following the state’s stay-at-home orders. We all need to devote some time to filling out a census form.

“Census folks advise going to the website by going to https://2020census.gov/. People can still respond to the 2020 Census if you don’t have a Census ID as long as you have a street address,” the story reported. “You can visit the online form and select ‘Start Questionnaire.’ Below the ID field, click the link that says, ‘If you do not have a Census ID, click here,’ to input your address.”

This is not a time-consuming process, and it will greatly benefit the north country. Fill out the form and make sure our counties are counted.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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