CHANDLER, AZ — We may be nine months away from the official "Census Day," but cities like Chandler are already gearing up for the historic first digital census in our country's history.
"Every resident will receive a postcard in the mail which will give them a code and it will direct them to a website where they can complete the census so this is brand new territory for everyone," says Leah Powell, the Neighborhood Resources Director for the City of Chandler.
Wednesday afternoon the city, along with Census personnel, and MAG (Maricopa Association of Governments) held a forum to brief key people in the community who are being designated as "trusted voices."
"These are people in the community that are really integrated into the community, people who their neighbors trust, their family members trust that could have tablets going out to certain events, helping people complete the census."
The goal with these "trusted voices" is to help bridge the gap for those who don't have access to a computer or a smartphone. The volunteers are also planning on going door-to-door in areas where there may be a language barrier or a fear of sharing information with a government entity.
"We want to make sure people trust in what we are doing. There are people who are afraid of the government and we need to communicate to them that by participating in this, your identity will not be revealed. Census workers take an oath not ever to discuss that information. The information is held for 72 years," says Laurie Berg Sapp, Communications Project Manager with the Maricopa Association of Governments.
MAG is the entity spearheading a region-wide effort to create a marketing plan to make sure those who have not been counted in the past are counted this time.
"We have #iCount2020. The 'I' stands for individual - that every individual is important and needs to be counted. The small (lower case) indicates digital technology and the fact that this is the first internet census in history," adds Berg Sapp.
Berg Sapp gave a presentation to the group of about 30 community members about what the roughly $2 million marketing plan will target: families with young children, low-income communities, elderly, students and new immigrants.
In the 2010 Census, Maricopa County lost on federal funding with the second highest undercounting of Latino children.
"Twenty billion is at stake in Arizona. If everyone is counted, that's a lot of money and a lot of money that touches everyone....that's why we are pushing this out so early," adds Berg Sapp.
As to the cyber-security component of the census, officials tell ABC15 the new digital census has undergone a number of security checkpoints and has layers of protection.
Also, as with previous censuses, the Census employees take an oath of privacy and none of the information submitted is shared with any other government agency.
If you would like to be a "trusted voice" in the community or are looking for other volunteer opportunities with the Census, please visit the City of Chandler's website.
You can also email Leah at: Leah.firstname.lastname@example.org.