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Census takers begin visiting homes

Staff Reports
Census forms were left hanging from a gate in Genoa on Monday in a plastic bag. Kurt Hildebrand photo
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One reason Douglas County could be lagging behind in the Census is the large number of post office boxes where residents get their mail.

Starting Monday, Census takers began hand-delivering forms to homes that either do not have mail delivered to the physical location of the home, or the mail delivery information for the residence cannot be verified. This process is to ensure all Nevadans – particularly in rural communities – are counted.

According to the U.S. Postal Service there are 8,501 active P.O. boxes serving Douglas County. While information about how many people are served by each box isn’t available, that could amount to as much as a third of the county’s population.

Douglas’ response rate trails that of Churchill, Carson, Lyon, Washoe and Clark counties.

“We cannot rely solely on residents in the most populous counties in Nevada to be included in the census and expect to get our fair share of federal funding in the rural parts of the state,” said Carolyn Turner, executive director of the Nevada Rural Electric Association. “Nevadans living in rural counties must be counted. It’s our responsibility to respond to the census – whether it’s online, via phone, comes in the mail or is hand delivered.”

Many of Silver State’s more remote counties have much lower responses than the urban areas.

At the bottom of the list is Esmeralda County at 3.5 percent. Esmeralda has an estimated population of 826, fewer residents than the Town of Minden.

Many residences in rural parts of the state have not received the physical form yet, since they are a part of the update leave phase of the national census.

“We want to make sure people who receive the hand-delivered census forms do not mistake them for an advertisement and accidentally throw them away,” said Churchill County Commission Chairman Pete Olsen. “It’s critical that rural residents who may not receive mail service at their homes still participate in the census.”

Nevadans have been able to complete their census questionnaire online, over the phone, or by mailing in the form since mid-March. However, As of May 14, Nevada’s self-response rate is 58.4 percent, compared to the U.S self-response rate, which is currently 59.3 percent. In addition to congressional and state representation, census data is used to help determine how much and where approximately $67 billion in federal funding for the next 10 years will be distributed throughout Nevada.

The U.S. Census Bureau is prioritizing the health and safety of the public and its employees. Therefore, the update leave process will not require any interaction with residents. Census workers will not ring doorbells or collect data during this phase and will wear personal protective equipment while in the field. Census questionnaires and instructions will be left at or in close proximity of the front doors of homes.