Our View

One significant impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the physical distancing measures being employed to stop it is that lots of folks have plenty of time on their hands.

By all means, try to find a silver lining in this dark time by making the most of free time at home, whether it’s by getting long-delayed housework done or enjoying some quiet, quality time with family.

With so many people having so much free time, this is an excellent opportunity to do your civic duty and answer the 2020 U.S. Census.

In reality, free time shouldn’t even be much of an issue when it comes to the census. It’s a short form that only takes minutes to fill out. But since census notifications were sent out right around the time social distancing measurers started taking affect, there’s really no excuse for most people to not get it taken care of right now.

Every 10 years, the government holds a census to count every resident in the nation. Those numbers are used to determine the size of each state’s delegation in the House of Representatives. Those who are concerned about this issue should care deeply about the census, no matter which side of the political aisle they occupy. The districts soon will be redrawn yet again, as they are every 10 years. The numbers and data used in the process will come from census results.

A recent survey rated New Mexico as one of the most hard-to-count states in the nation. That means the state population are likely undercounted, resulting in a loss of federal funding.

According to the U.S. Census, as of April 5, 45.1 percent of the nation’s households have responded either online or by phone. In New Mexico, only 34.7 percent of residents have responded. Valencia County is doing a little bit better at 39.1 percent response rate, but we can do better.

Many New Mexicans rely on programs such as LIHEAP for heating aid, as well as SNAP to cover food expenses and Medicaid for health care. Distribution of funds for those programs is determined by census data.

Among those most at risk are children and those who live in rural areas, such as Valencia County.

The questions are simple and mostly relate to how many people live in each household and information on their age, sex, ethnic background and race. Having this information helps guide government decision-making on a wide variety of issues and programs.

Keep in mind that the census is mandated by the Constitution, and participation by every American household is required by law. While most people likely will take advantage of the convenience of filling out the form online at 2020census.gov, the U.S. Census Bureau offers mail and phone options as well.

So take a few minutes to complete this simple task and help your community and country. It’s a quick and painless way to show some patriotism.

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