UPDATE: MTSU students sought as fluid deadline nea...

UPDATE: MTSU students sought as fluid deadline nears for 2020 Census

Rutherford County Counts! census signs posted around campus contain a QR code that will direct students to the Census 2020 online questionnaire for completion. The deadline to participate in the 2020 Census is Sept. 30. (MTSU photo)

The U.S. Census Bureau is making a final push to reach households in Rutherford County’s low-responding areas to encourage them to respond to the 2020 census by a fast-approaching, yet uncertain deadline.

(UPDATE: A federal judge recently blocked the implementation of a Sept. 30 deadline and ordered census counting to continue until Oct. 31. But it is unclear if the Trump Administration will abide by this ruling, so residents are still encouraged to fill out the census as soon as possible.)

Census takers are asking households to respond to the census with door-to-door visits as well as directing residents to fill out the census online at Census officials are reminding residents that federal law keeps responses safe and secure.

With a theme of “Rutherford County Counts!”, local census committee volunteers have partnered with Census Bureau representatives to share information and reminders about the importance of participating in this once-a-decade, federally mandated count.

MTSU students who live off campus are encouraged to complete the online questionnaire, which will ask them where they were living or where they normally would have been living on April 1 of this year.

While the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the university to move to remote classes in spring and prompted some students to return to their hometowns, census officials want to know where students would have normally been living on April 1. Students who lived on campus in the spring have already been counted.

This special kiosk on the first floor of the James E. Walker Library is available for anyone still needing to fill out the 2020 Census questionnaire. (Submitted photo)

This special kiosk on the first floor of the James E. Walker Library is available for anyone still needing to fill out the 2020 census questionnaire. (Submitted photo)

The university has designated a special census kiosk available on the first floor of the James E. Walker Library for students to use if needed. Also, the “Rutherford County Counts!” census signs displayed around campus include a QR code that will take students directly to the census form via their smartphones.

Those signs are also visible near the voter registration tables set up by the university’s American Democracy Project in advance of the November election.

The tables will be set up on the lawn of Emmett and Rose Kennon Sports Hall of Fame, 1320 Greenland Drive, from Sept. 28 to Oct. 1 and Oct. 5, on the lawn of the Paul W. Martin Honors Building, 1737 Blue Raider Drive.

Dr. Mary A. Evins, professor of history, coordinator of the American Democracy Project, member of the University Honors College faculty

Dr. Mary A. Evins

“The importance of every single person who resides in the United States being counted in the U.S. census cannot be overstated. It is absolutely imperative that we know in this country who we all are,” said history professor Mary Evins, coordinator of the American Democracy Project chapter.

“To be able to recognize and honor how diverse, growing, and energized the U.S. population is, everybody must, must be ‘enumerated,’ as our Constitution says. Voting representation and good public policy, across the state and nationally, depend on the accuracy of the 2020 census for the next entire decade. We the people have strength in our numbers. We’re counting on you to be counted. We need you.”

As mandated by the U.S. Constitution, the census is a once-every-decade count of everyone living in the country. The results help determine how an estimated $1 trillion-plus in federal funding flows into states and communities each year as well as how seats in Congress are distributed among the 50 states.

The census also provides vital data for local governments, organizations and businesses to better evaluate the services and programs needed.

Rutherford County could receive an estimated $1,100 annually in federal funds for each person counted, meaning a 2020 count showing a 20,000-person population increase would equate to an extra $22 million in federal funds each year.

June Iljana, media specialist with the Census Bureau, said the organization has taken great pains to ensure public safety amid COVID-19, mandating that census takers wear face coverings and gloves when visiting homes as well as remaining outside the home when gathering information.

Use the QR code above to complete the 2020 Census. (Illustration by MTSU Creative Marketing Solutions)