You Count: Why it's important to participate in 2020 Census

John McCann

You Count: Why it's important to participate in 2020 Census

John McCann

I care about Hilton Head Island. Every day I meet others who care about our community as much as I do. They often ask, "What can I do to make a difference?" This year, the answer is easy.

You can make a difference by participating in the 2020 Census on April 1. Set aside time to account for every member living in your household on this day.

As far back as 1790, we've been counting everyone who lives in this country. America's founders included the census in the Constitution because they wanted a government that represents the people. Article 1, Section 2 mandates that a census occur every 10 years.

That count is used to allocate seats in the House of Representatives for all 50 states. But the census more than that. It's a once-a-decade chance to track the shifts in population across our country and in our Town.

Your response to the 2020 Census will inform how billions - more than $670 billion in fact - in federal funding flow to communities every year for emergency services, roads, health clinics, schools, affordable housing, and hundreds of other critical services and programs that make a difference in our lives every day.

Locally, we use census data when we apply for Community Development Block Grants, which are centered around census tracks, population and demographics within these tracks. If we do not get an accurate count of how many people live on the Island, we will not get our fair share of federal funding when it comes time to distribute these billions of dollars.

Census data also provides important information used in determining our Town Council seats. Each of our six wards should comprise approximately the same number of individuals to ensure the constitutional requirement of "one person, one vote." Census information is used to redistrict Town Council wards to ensure we achieve equal representation across all of the wards.

This spring, everyone in our country will get counted and we need to take special steps to ensure everyone on the island is included in that count. The U.S. Census Bureau will begin mailing invitations this month inviting you to complete the simple questionnaire online, by phone, or by mail. It only takes a few minutes, but the impact will be felt for years.

You can learn more about at Shape your future - and ours - by responding with your count.

John McCann is the mayor of Hilton Head Island.