NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVLA/WGMB) — Louisiana’s governor has launched an advisory panel in a push to include as many state residents as possible in the 2020 U.S. Census.
The Louisiana Complete Count Committee adds Louisiana to the list of 45 other states running a census awareness campaign this year. Gov. John Bel Edwards signed an executive order creating the 23-member group of community, government and business leaders in December.
“Their work will shape the future of Louisiana for the next decade to come and we all must play our part to make sure no Louisiana resident is unrepresented,” Edwards said Tuesday.
Census results will decide how much federal aid Louisiana gets — and how many congressional seats the state features — over the next decade. After lower-than-average participation in the 2010 census, the state lost its first congressional seat since 1990.
“There are dollars that we are leaving on the table and dollars we once had that we do not have right now,” New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said at a news conference launching the committee Tuesday.
Louisiana currently averages $15 billion a year in federal aid, largely based on 2010 data. That money has gone toward healthcare, highways, education, housing and other public programs.
The U.S. Census has been around since 1790. This year’s count will be the first in which participants can complete forms online, starting in March.
Participants who don’t file census documents online will get a paper questionnaire in April. Those who still do not respond will get visits from Census Bureau workers by August.
“Stop a mama, talk to the baby, say, ‘Did you get counted?'” Cantrell said. “It’s the interaction that really alleviates the fears among our people.”
Census-takers will not ask residents for Social Security numbers, credit card information or proof of citizenship; if anyone claiming to be from the Census Bureau asks for that information, people are encouraged to tell authorities — as it could signal a scam.