Martinez Census responses ahead of 2010 totals

Martinez residents have responded so well in replying to the United States 2020 Census that its current numbers already have beaten the 2010 results, said Josh Green media specialist for the United States Census Bureau.

The city’s results can only get better – the Census has an Oct. 31 deadline this year.

“Every day, it’s going to grow,” Green said, praising Martinez for being one of the few cities that beat its previous response percentage so early in the process.

By June 8, a combined 76.3 percent of Martinez residents had responded to the questionnaire that began March 12 with the online version, Green said. Its finishing results in 2010 was 76.1 percent, he said.

Of those responding this year, 68 percent answered the Census questionnaire online, he said. This is the first year that option has been available in Census history, and Green said he was pleased how well the option is being received in Martinez.

Distribution of paper questionnaires has been delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. If people don’t want to respond online or mail in paper questionnaires, they may speak directly to census takers who come to their doors.

Those census takers will start making their visits Aug. 11, and each will have an official federal badge with photo, a bag and a census phone, Green said. “We don’t use clipboards anymore,” he said.

Nor do they ask personal questions, such as requesting Social Security numbers or financial information. “If anyone goes into that territory, they’re not a census taker,” Green said.

Those waiting until now or through October to respond need to think of where they were April 1, Green said. That’s the goal of the Census – finding out how many people were living in Martinez April 1, even though Green knows that because of the pandemic, some people have moved to care for parents or to another state.

Green said he can’t peg why Martinez is responding so well this year, but one reason might be early community engagement. He said 1,500 people nationwide, of which 300 are in California, are doing extensive outreach to make sure people know to be counted.

They can go online at my2020census.gov, which is a direct link to the online form as well as other options for answering Census questions.

The Census, taken every 10 years, is a requirement of the U.S. Constitution. Ordinarily, it would have been wrapped up July 31, but again, the pandemic has forced some changes, such as the new Oct. 31 deadline.

This also means the Census results, after it is checked extensively, won’t be delivered to the President until April 30, 2021, instead of Dec. 31, 2020 as is normally required. Two weeks after the results are given to the President, they’re given to Congress so redistricting can start.

California, as will other states, uses the Census results to draw voting districts. Martinez and the Martinez Unified School District also will draw new voting areas; four for members of the Council – the mayor is elected at large – and five for the MUSD Board of Education.

Getting the numbers right is important if Martinez is to get its fair share of federal funds, Green said. “Every community deserves its fair share,” he said, explaining that $800 billion in federal funding is distributed annually to pay for such essential services as fire protection, school lunches, road repairs, hospital and clinic expenses and in other areas.

“With an undercount, with people avoiding getting counted, that’s dollars out of your community,” he said.

Green said Martinez residents should be proud of their high percentage reached so soon. By comparison, San Francisco residents are responding slower than the national average, in contrast to most East Bay cities. “People are civic-minded and responding, and that makes us happy,” he said.

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