Sen Paul Scott mug

Sen. Paul Scott

Oklahoma is preparing for the 2020 Census and redistricting - two very important aspects of our representative government.

Having high participation in the Census is so important for our district and state.  It provides a complete picture of resident demographics so government, health, business and nonprofit entities can better understand the needs of cities, school districts, counties, legislative districts or the state overall.

State redistricting is necessary to ensure citizens have fair and equal representation.  Since the state Senate has 48 members and the state House has 101, Senate districts are much larger than House districts. Following the 2010 Census, Senate districts included an average of 78,153 residents up from 71,889 after the 2000 Census.  House districts have represented approximately 37,142 residents since the 2010 Census up from 34,165 residents after the 2000 Census.  Following the results of the 2020 Census, these numbers will increase again. 

Census population totals also guide legislative redistricting at the federal level determining how many seats each state has in the federal House of Representatives. It assists federal, tribal, state and local governments in planning and implementing programs, services and emergency response.  Data helps forecast future transportation needs as well as determine areas eligible for housing assistance and rehabilitation loans.

All the funding and projects awarded in our Senate District are typically based on Census numbers.  Approximately $675 billion in federal funding is distributed to communities nationwide annually based on Census numbers. 

Businesses also use Census data when looking to relocate or open new facilities.  They look at local economies, education levels, ages, etc. to determine the best location for branches or stores. They have to make sure that local communities have the type of workers they need or are desired places for workers to relocate.  National companies put a lot of thought into relocating and opening new offices and depend heavily on Census information.    

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, around 25 percent of Oklahoma households didn’t participate in the 2010 Census accounting for a significant undercount.  It’s estimated that an undercount of just two percent could cost the state as much as $1.8 billion over ten years in lost economic development and federal funding.

This is a big deal, and one I hope our citizens don’t take for granted.  The results impact all of us.  Every citizen not counted in the census costs Oklahoma approximately $1,800 per year in lost federal funding for ten years, and that doesn’t include lost state, local or nonprofit funding.

I want to encourage everyone to please be looking for information in your mail about the Census.  Talk with your neighbors, friends and family members, especially those who are disabled or elderly who may need assistance reading and filling out their surveys.  You’ll begin seeing advertisements after the new year and then you’ll receive your survey in March or early April.

This year will be easier than ever to participate as we can fill out the Census survey online, by phone and or by mail.  If you don’t have access to internet, everyone will still get a pamphlet in the mail and you can call in your answers or mail the survey back.  You can also visit your local library or other Census partners in your community to submit your survey online.  There are three easy ways to participate. 

Currently, Census Complete Count Committees are being formed at the national, state and local levels.  Communities and neighborhoods are also setting up their own committees to help ensure their residents are counted. 

The U.S. Census Bureau is also looking to hire temporary employees to help with the Census in various ways throughout the state in the coming months. 

To learn more about the Complete Count Committees, how to set up a committee, how to apply for a Census job or find any other Census information, please visit www.census.gov

Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any ideas, questions or concerns you might have regarding legislative matters. I can be reached at paul.scott@oksenate.gov or (405) 521-5522.  You can also write me at the state Capitol at Sen. Paul Scott, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Room 428, Oklahoma City, OK 73105.

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