From the quiet hallways of the most beautiful state Capitol in our great nation, this is Senator Keith Ingram.
The next six weeks are critical for census takers in Arkansas.
They will be knocking on doors, focusing on areas that traditionally get under counted.
This year they face an additional challenge - a timeline that has been shortened by a month.
In the past, census takers had about two-and-a-half months to complete the final surveys of the census. Originally, they were scheduled to go door to door from May 13 to July 31.
However, because of the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s schedule has been moved back and it has been shortened. This year, census takers will go door to door between August 11 and September 30.
If you don’t want to wait for a census taker to knock on your door, you can use the Internet, the mail or the telephone.
But 37 percent of the population has not yet filled out census forms. Over the next six weeks, census takers will go door to door trying to locate people who have not responded.
If they have the resources, local governments will help locate and count people in hard-to-reach neighborhoods.
In Arkansas we have a lot of families living on low incomes, and a lot of families living in areas that lack reliable Internet service. That adds to the challenges of counting everyone.
I cannot overstate the importance of getting a thorough and accurate census count - not just for the state of Arkansas as a whole, but also for local cities and towns.
You can still go online and fill out the census. Simply search for 2020 Census and the official U.S. Census Bureau site will appear on your Internet.
You will be asked to list everyone who lived in your house on April 1 of this year.
There is no question about citizenship. Census takers only want to know how many people live in your household, and their names. All personal information will be kept strictly confidential.
You will never be asked for your Social Security number, or for credit card numbers. You will not be asked for money, and you will not be asked about your political opinions. If someone claims to be a census taker and asks about those things, it is a scam.
The census is only conducted every decade. For the next ten years, census results will be the basis for drawing legislative and congressional boundaries.
In order for your community to be adequately represented in our democratic system, everyone must be counted.
Government services are distributed according to census numbers. Health clinics receive adequate funding in communities where people need them.
Roads are built and maintained where there is traffic. Fire departments are more likely to get the equipment they need to protect the neighborhoods they serve.
Larger cities have the resources to dedicate staff to make sure that every resident gets counted.
Small towns and unincorporated areas lack those resources, but thankfully there are advocacy groups that have been training volunteers and sending them to areas that traditionally get undercounted.
We have until September 30. If you have not filled out a census form, or if you know someone who has not completed it, please take the time to do so.
It’s easy, it’s confidential and it is important.
From the Capitol, it is always my greatest honor and most sincere privilege to serve you as your state Senator. This is Senator Keith Ingram.