Rock the vote. Show up at the polls. Every vote counts.
Voting is frequently pushed as a way to make your voice heard in the halls of government.
And it is. It’s just not the only way.
We vote twice a year. It matters, and it can affect everything from who decides what textbooks are used in a second-grade math class to who will sit on the Supreme Court for 30 years.
But every 10 years, there is another opportunity that doesn’t get you a sticker to wear to work.
No one seems to ask if you participated in the U.S. Census.
Voting might be your chance to have your say, but the census is literally your opportunity to stand up and be counted. Just like voting, however, it’s a right and a responsibility that isn’t treated with the respect it should be.
The numbers and information accumulated in the census isn’t intrusive or irrelevant. It is critical to deciding how many representatives your state has — how the lines are drawn and who draws them. It helps decide where money goes and why.
In short, all of those times you ask yourself, “Why doesn’t Washington do something about (insert obvious problem here)?” might be touched on not just who won your vote but whether you raised your hand when the nation took attendance.
Which is what makes it tragic when people don’t respond. We need the census to be as accurate as possible, which means we need real people answering questions as often as possible.
The Pennsylvania State Data Center, a Census Bureau liaison, says 19% of Keystone State residents are expected to not respond. About 12 pockets of Westmoreland County and five times that in Allegheny are counted among the areas least likely to answer surveys or knocked doors.
The areas least likely to participate in the census are the ones that need to be counted the most. They are rural. They are poor. They have a lot of kids. They need to be counted so they can get their fair share of the American pie. We all do.
So when the census comes calling, stand up and say, “Here!”