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Get out the count: Local committee works with U.S. Census Bureau to ensure strong participation

BEMIDJI—With a U.S. census in 2020 that carries potential ramifications for the state of Minnesota, local governments are taking action to boost participation.

Regionally, Beltrami County Administrative Specialist Diane Moe and Bemidji City Clerk Michelle Miller have partnered to create a Complete Count Committee. The committee, Moe said, is an informational group to push participation and promote the census effort over the next several months.

"In winter, we went to a training event by the (United States) Census Bureau and they encouraged us to make the committee," Moe said. "Locally, we've already had two meetings so far, and have another one coming up at the end of May. Both the city and county have signed resolutions of support, too."

The forming of promotional groups for the census locally and nationwide are taking place as the bureau continues its ongoing hiring process. According to the bureau's website, more than 240 area census offices will be in place by September.

By April 2020, households throughout the country will receive an invitation to participate in the census, and can do so by phone, mail or online. The census data is expected to be compiled by the end of 2020.

Data collected through the census will determine how more than $675 billion in federal funding will be distributed to states and communities, according to the bureau's website. Additionally, the census will be used to draw political districts at the federal, state, local and school district levels.

The census also provides data to determine how many congressional districts and electoral votes a state has. Minnesota has eight congressional districts and, since 1964 has awarded 10 electoral votes. However, in a release, the Association of Minnesota Counties said the state is at risk of losing electoral votes and a district, depending on participation.

The need to participate is one of the reasons Moe said Complete Count Committees have been formed. Another, Moe said, is to get workers for the census.

"All we do is encourage people to apply, because there's a lot of short term, flexible employment available," Moe said. "They're looking to get about 700 applications in the Beltrami County area."

Residents can find a link to apply for census jobs at the county's website, www.co.beltrami.mn.us. According to the bureau's website, applicants must be at least 18-years-old, have a valid Social Security number and be a United States citizen.

Job titles listed on the bureau's website include operations supervisors, clerks for administrative purposes, census field supervisors and census takers. The latter work in the field and conduct interviews with residents.

You can become a 2020 census worker:

How: A link is featured on the Beltrami County's website, www.co.beltrami.mn.us to apply with the United States Census Bureau to work on the 2020 census.

Requirements: Must be at least 18-years-old, have a valid Social Security number, be a United States citizen.

• Or, to participate with the Beltrami County Complete Count Committee, contact Diane Moe at (218) 333-8478, or Michelle Miller at (218) 759-3570.

Matthew Liedke

Matthew Liedke is the city, county and state government reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer. He also covers business, politics and financial news.

(218) 333-9791