Martha Saines is counting the uncounted
by Melanie Jongsma
LANSING, Ill. (August 7, 2020) – Lansing resident Martha Saines is recently retired, and she was planning to spend this year traveling. When COVID-19 changed those plans, she still wanted to keep busy. A friend mentioned that he had signed up to be a census taker—and Martha agreed to sign up as well.
Census takers were originally scheduled to begin knocking on doors in May, following up with people who did not respond to the census invitations that were mailed in March. Saines says workers were re-scheduled to begin July 1, but another delay was imposed. August 3 was her first day working as a census taker.
Saines is working from a list of addresses provided by the Census Bureau. She drives to each one, knocks on the door, and identifies herself to whoever answers. She explains that being counted is important, especially for people who depend on federal dollars for things like senior services, minority programs, and school funding. She has found that most people are then willing to take the census, and she walks them through the process.
Most of her visits have been to senior citizens, and the most common reason they give for not completing the census is that they thought they had to do it online. The seniors she is visiting are not computer savvy, so they were glad to have her help inputting their information.
As of August 4, Lansing’s Census 2020 response rate is at 71.8%. Through the efforts of census takers like Martha Saines, that rate could improve.
Saines and other census takers have limited time to reach the uncounted in their assigned areas. In an August 3 statement, US Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham announced, “We will end field data collection by September 30, 2020. Self-response options will also close on that date to permit the commencement of data processing.”
Dillingham ended his statement by saying, “The 2020 Census belongs to us all. If you know someone who has not yet responded, please encourage them to do so today online at 2020census.gov, over the phone, or by mail.”
- To take the census in English: 844-330-2020
- To take the census in Spanish: 844-468-2020