U.P. 2020 Census hosts Virtual Town Hall to help ensure that Yoopers’ will ‘Be Counted’

Michigan News

UPPER PENINSULA, Mich. (WJMN) — The Michigan Lieutenant Governor, Michigan Attorney General, along with State and Local representatives will be hosting a virtual town hall tomorrow to help boost the response rate for the 2020 Census in the Upper Peninsula.

It’s more than a population count. It’s a way to properly fund our state and local governments, but officials say the Upper Peninsula is at risk of being under-counted in the 2020 Census.

“Of the 15 counties, only 3 have surpassed the 50% mark and the average for the state is over 60% now,” said Kerry Ebersole Singh, The Executive Director of the 2020 Michigan Census.

“So, a number of county’s, we need really remind folks to please fill out those forms and get them back into the census bureau because there are critical funding for programs at stake.”

In some areas of the Upper Peninsula, they have been declared “update leave”, which means Kerry would send a census worker to individual homes in specific regions to personally drop-off a paper census form, but due to the pandemic, that action has been postponed until June.

Kerry hopes to break 2010’s 78% statewide response rate. The new goal is 82% for the state, which means Michigan still has some work to do.

“While we’re doing well compared to other states and despite the pandemic that we are facing right now with COVID-19, we still have a ways to go,” said Ebersole Singh.

State and local officials express filling the census out can play a major role in federal funding for small and large projects, like road construction, but also to properly represent our state in Washington D.C.

“Long term planning, we need this funding to help us with recovery from the effort, so I’m hopeful people take this seriously, that you look back at your pile of mail that’s sitting in the kitchen from several weeks ago when this all started and get it filled out online,” said City of Marquette Mayor Jenna Smith.

“I think with the COVID-19 situation, the census has unfortunately taken a back burner this year and I’m hopeful that this town hall and the heavy hitters, the great folks we’ve got as panelist for this event will help bring it to the forefront in everyone’s mind.”

Mayor Smith told me that the City of Marquette has above a 60% response rate, playing a big part in Marquette County’s 54% turnout.

She also said that hosting a town hall during this pandemic truly shows how important filling the census out is.

The virtual town hall will take place tomorrow from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. For access to the town hall, visit our website, click here.

State Rep. Gregory Markkanen of Hancock, Marquette Mayor Jenna Smith, Lt. Gov. Gilchrist II, Attorney General Nessel to host U.P. 2020 Census ‘Be Counted’ Virtual Town Hall on Thursday

Goal of online rally with Michigan Census Director Ebersole Singh and local advocates is to boost Yoopers’ response rate as federal data show U.P. highly at risk of being undercounted in 2020

When: 4-5 p.m. | Thursday, April 30

Who: State Rep. Gregory Markkanen, R-HancockMarquette Mayor Jenna Smith; Michigan Lt. Gov.Garlin Gilchrist II; Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel; Michigan 2020 Census Director Kerry Ebersole Singh; Marquette Peter White Public Library Director Andrea Ingmire; Victoria Leonhardt, Grow and Lead Center for Youth Development 

Where: Livestreaming at facebook.com/MiCensus

What: 2020 Michigan “Be Counted” U.P. Virtual Town Hall event that will highlight the convenience of completing the census and the important benefits it brings to communities across the U.P. The aim is to help boost participation in 2020. The U.P. is highly at risk of being undercounted in the 2020 Census, federal data show. All counties in the U.P. – except Marquette – are more than 10% behind their 2010 response rate. The counties of AlgerKeweenaw and Ontonagon have the most ground to make up with each being 18% or more behind their 2010 finish. 

Of the 15 counties in the Upper Peninsula, only three have crossed the 50% “Be Counted” threshold: Marquette (54.6%), Delta (52.9%) and Dickinson (56.2). Keweenaw County’s 17.0% response rate thus far ranks as the lowest in the stateMackinac County, which had a 2010 response rate of 37.3%, currently shows 24% participation. Additional U.P. counties that are underperforming in comparison with 2010 include Chippewa (40.8% currently; 52.8% in 2010); Luce (48.6% in 2010 vs. 33.5% currently); and Schoolcraft (49.6% in 2010 vs. current 39% participation).

The U.P. 2020 Census “Be Counted” Town Hall was initially planned as a public forum. The event has now become an online town hall to comply with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order to help mitigate the spread of the deadly novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Each of the dignitaries participating in the U.P. virtual town hall will appear on camera remotely to ensure safe social distancing protocols.

Statewide, more than 4.3 million Michigan residents are estimated to be hard to count or less likely to complete the 2020 census, as measured by federal data on expected response rates. In 2010, 78% of the state’s population completed the census. The Michigan 2020 Census campaign’s goal is 82% participation statewide. According to Director Singh, “Michigan needs to increase participation by at least 10 points by or before April 30 to stay on track for meeting that goal.”

The campaign’s goal is to communicate the importance of completing the census, dispel myths, maximize participation and promote understanding of how completing the census is more convenient than ever before by mail, by phone and – for the first time – online.

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