‘A sense of hope.’ Fair Count’s TV push urges Georgians to complete Census

U.S. Census takers recently began visiting each household that has not responded. (Courtesy U.S. Census Bureau)

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U.S. Census takers recently began visiting each household that has not responded. (Courtesy U.S. Census Bureau)

'There are no do-overs, we only get one shot.'

The nonprofit started by Stacey Abrams to ensure that hard-to-count populations are tallied during the 2020 U.S. Census launched a statewide TV ad buy Tuesday urging Georgians to participate to secure a better “road to recovery” after the pandemic subsides.

Fair Count’s ad emphasizes how the once-every-decade tally of the U.S. population shapes how taxpayer dollars are spent to give communities access “quality healthcare, a safe environment for our kids and a sense of hope as we move into the future.”

Abrams started the group in March 2019 to focus on minorities, non-English speakers, renters and others who are more likely to be skipped. Some estimates project roughly 20 percent of Georgians live in these more difficult to tally demographic blocs.

The pandemic has upended efforts to secure an accurate count of the nation’s population, forcing Census officials to rethink their strategies and postpone field operations. The agency cut its collection period short by one month, raising fears about an undercount.

Rebecca DeHart, the group’s chief executive, said the ads will help spotlight the importance of an accurate headcount, including Georgia’s ability to draw “our fair share of federal resources over the next decade as well as our need for fair political maps” that will be redrawn next year.

“When we recover from this pandemic, we need to make sure we return to thriving schools, accessible healthcare and an economy that works for all of us,” she said. “Completing the 2020 Census is the first step towards our recovery.”

Federal data show Georgia’s participation in the U.S. Census already lags behind the rest of the nation: The national response rate to the 2020 Census was 76.5% through Aug. 23, but Georgia trails at 67.9%.

The radio and TV buys will air in middle and south Georgia communities where Census self-response rates are particularly low. Fair Count officials warn that for every person not counted in the Census, Georgia could lose as much as $3,600 annually for the next decade.

“We have just five weeks left to get this count right,” said Jeanine Abrams McLean, the group’s vice president. “There are no do-overs, we only get one shot.”

Here’s the text of the ad:

We need to head in a new direction, where we can build our road to recovery after this pandemic one community at a time.

That's why it's important to get counted in this year's census. Billions of dollars will go to help communities around the country, providing neighborhoods with access to quality healthcare, a safe environment for our kids, and a sense of hope as we move into the future.

Complete your 2020 Census today.