LAS VEGAS (AP) — A panel formed by Nevada's governor to encourage statewide participation in the 2020 U.S. Census is stressing the importance of people being counted, following a fight in Washington, D.C., over whether to include a citizenship question.
Lt. Gov. Kate Marshall, head of the Nevada Complete Count Committee, told the Las Vegas Sun that for every Nevadan who isn't counted in the once-every-decade census, the state could lose about $20,000 in federal funding.
"Nevadans can't afford to not be counted," Marshall said, "and it's our job to make sure everyone regardless of age, sex, race, citizenship status, urban or rural, knows when and where to get counted."
The committee has met once. But Marshall said regular meetings will be scheduled "to put in the groundwork necessary to ensure every Nevadan is counted."
Mailing of census forms is set to begin in March.
A fight over whether to include a citizenship question led to a 5-4 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court against Trump administration reasoning for including the question.
Lawyers for numerous states and municipalities argued that adding the citizenship question for the first time since 1950 would depress participation by immigrants; lower the population count in states that tend to vote Democratic; and decrease government funds and congressional representation to those areas.
After conflicting signals from President Donald Trump and the Justice Department over whether they'd pursue adding the question anyway, Trump announced that he was instead directing federal agencies to try to compile citizenship information using existing databases.
Emily Zamora, executive director of Silver State Voices and a member of the Complete Count Committee, told the Sun the panel will focus on gaining trust from communities that may be wary of the process after the back-and-forth in Washington.
Marshall stressed that census participation is anonymous and safe, and that under federal law, individual responses are confidential.
Zamora said the committee is preparing a public information plan including field programs similar to "get out the vote" strategies, community forums and digital outreach.
"Any barrier to a person completing the census is a concern, but we are committed to finding new and innovative ways to ensure a complete count regardless of discussions that are happening in Washington," she said.
Information from: Las Vegas Sun, http://www.lasvegassun.com