JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - In one year the 2020 census will get underway, which means that Mississippi residents will officially be counted for federal funding and congressional seats.
And next year, the counting process will require citizens to be computer savvy.
“Our goal is for Mississippi to have a complete and accurate census count,” announced Southern Echo Inc. Executive Director Rachel Mayes.
The leadership, education and training organization is among more than 20 organizations coming together to spread the word about the big changes coming.
“People will have to upload census information by computer versus paper,” said Mayes. “That will primarily be in the month of April. There will be a paper opportunity, but they’re urging everyone to use their computers, their smart phones and their iPads to upload their census information."
Administration with the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance said immigrants from more than 70 countries live in the state and face a language barrier that will affect the official count.
“We ended up with an under-count that was probably about 50 percent of those who are actually immigrants here in Mississippi,” said MIRA Executive Director Bill Chandler. “I think it’s important, and I think this citizen count box that has been proposed by the feds is another deterrent."
Census data determines how much Mississippi will receive of more than $800 billion dollars in federal funding.
It provides money for schools, Head Start, hospitals, state infrastructure and the drawing of district lines.
“We’re talking about programs such as TANF, SNAP, Medicaid. We’re talking about childcare,” said Cassandra Welchlin with the MS Black Women’s Roundtable. “And we want to ensure that every person is counted so that those programs can make ends meet."
Richland Mayor Pat Sullivan said census participation is also paramount in obtaining federal transportation dollars.
"We have a daily count on the highway of about 50,000 people coming through, and we have to provide the services for these people coming through even though they may not be paying in our city taxes," said Sullivan.
Because the census will be taken online, officials are reaching out to libraries, churches, local governments and other organizations to serve as trusted census sites in rural areas.