At its best, the system put in place by Census 2020 will not work well in Rio Arriba County. Add restrictions from a virus and we have results lagging far behind the rest of the country in getting counted.
Response rates in the country are running around 77 percent. Most states are well into the 85 percentile. New Mexico hovers at 65.5, the lowest state response rate. Rio Arriba County is an abysmal 25.4 percent.
In this age of technology growing faster than our tiny human brains can fathom, the Census depends on the U.S. Postal Service. We’ve become accustomed to only receiving mail on Monday and Friday. With apologies to the thinking community, our president may have a point about questioning our dependence on the post office to handle absentee ballots in a timely manner. But we digress.
The Census took the Postal Serivce out of the equation because over 95 percent of Rio Arribans receive their mail at a post office box. The Census program will not mail to a box, it must be a physical address.
This is where the ground troops come in, knocking on doors, surveying face-to-face. Of course that can’t be done now because of all the government restrictions to fight the virus.
Santa Clara is at 29.7 percent response rate and Ohkay Owingeh is 29.3 percent. Take a look across the page and you’ll see a letter from Ohkay Owingeh Gov. Ron Lovato. He’d like his Pueblo properly counted, as well as other pueblos and County residents.
But how? Census 2020 undertook a huge marketing effort in the spring. It had sputtered and spit over the winter and the changes in marketing agencies did not help. However, just as the virus hit, Census 2020 dumped a ton of money in newspaper, radio and television advertising. The ads were simple, direct and easy to understand.
However, Rio Arriba County ignored all the messages and holds the dubious honor of one of the worst responding counties in the country. There is no reason for this.
We will not drill readers on the federal money being dangled in front of us if we fill out our forms. Surely everyone has heard about social programs and entitlement funds that would be increased if everyone would answer the dozen or so simple questions.
We’ve got to do better. It’s a simple, quick process. Please join the rest of the country and get counted. Get your phone out and go to 2020census.gov. There is a link on the front page that takes you through a very easy process.
Do it for yourself, the community and the state. Do it because it’s one of your few duties as a American citizen and you don’t have to wear a mask or leave your house to do so.