DALTON — Fair Count is launching its first completely virtual bus tour in Dalton Wednesday in an effort to increase participation in the 2020 Census. After having to cancel an in-person bus tour in March due to COVID-19, Fair Count has re-imagined the effort, and its desired impact, and coined the new effort — I Count Bus Tour: Remix.
Kicking the tour off in Whitfield County, Fair Count will partner with the Latin American Association in Dalton and host a panel discussion on the importance of the 2020 Census for Latin communities. Panelists will include:
— Ed Reed, Fair Count program director;
— Eva Rodriguez, manager, Latin American Association: Dalton Outreach Center;
— Tom Pinson, director, Mack Gaston Community Center;
— Manuel “Mannie” Meza, local business owner and community leader.
The panel is open to the public on Facebook Live and the option to RSVP is available at https://www.mobilize.us/faircount/event/277580/.
Utilizing digital and distance organizing and mobilization tools such as online events, text messages, phone banks, tele-town halls, robocalls as well as embarking on a full-court press tour, Fair Count will use every avenue to authentically reach Georgians in more than 75 counties over the course of six weeks to achieve a fair and accurate count.
“Georgia’s census participation rate is lower than the national average,” Fair Count CEO Rebecca DeHart said. “And getting a full, fair, and accurate count has never been more important. As communities suffer through, and then recover from, the impacts of COVID-19, they will need every dollar they deserve to ensure full funding for schools, infrastructure, health care and safety net programs as well as fair representation in their governing bodies.”
As of June 2, the national census participation rate was 60.5%, while in Georgia the self-response rate was at just 56.7%. Participation varies widely among the 159 counties; the lowest ranking being Quitman, Hancock and Calhoun County with less than 25% of households participating. Twenty-three counties in Georgia have a higher participation rate than the national average, with the highest being Fayette County coming in at 72.5%. Whitfield County, the site of the I Count Bus Tour: Remix launch, has had 52.1% of all households respond so far.
The 2020 Census results will direct more than $1.5 trillion every year for the next decade through more than 300 federal programs. From Head Start to Medicaid, and environmental protections to SNAP, TANF and WIC, nearly all federal funding formulas rely on the census for their allocation. Additionally, the census results inform reapportionment of Congress, weighting the Electoral College, informs redistricting efforts at the federal, state and local levels, and guides economic development opportunities. If inaccurately represented, Georgia could lose upwards of $3,600 for every person who goes uncounted.
“We are thrilled to be back working with local organizations on the ground, creating safe, social distanced events to increase participation in the 2020 Census,” Fair Count Events Coordinator Lilli Jackson said. “No one should have to risk their health to learn about or participate in our democracy. Fair Count is doubling down our efforts to ensure that people in Georgia and around the nation can have their questions answered, receive assistance, and complete the 2020 Census.
Due to COVID-19 the Census Bureau has extended the timeline for completing the 2020 Census until Oct. 31, 2020. Taking less than 10 minutes to complete, the census is safe, secure and available in multiple languages. Those who have not yet completed the 2020 Census are encouraged to visit www.My2020Census.gov to complete it online. If interested in completing by phone, call 1-844-330-8282 for English speaking participants or 1-844-468-2020 to complete it in Spanish.
For more information on the I Count Bus Tour: Remix, visit https://www.faircount.org/vbt/.