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Volunteers take to the streets to get CSRA residents counted in census

Published: Sep. 23, 2020 at 11:17 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - It may be the most important deadline in a decade, and it’s only a week away.

Georgia and South Carolina are trailing most of the country in responding to the census. Here in the CSRA, people are going door to door to get an accurate count.

Volunteers from the group BLACC took to the streets to get people in an Augusta neighborhood registered to vote and counted for the census.

“We know a lot of the privileged neighborhoods, the more privileged areas of town -- Columbia County -- their census completion rate versus Richmond County is significantly different, so we’re targeting the areas where we know those rates are low,” volunteer Jamie Tutson said.

The main goal is to get the portion of the community that remains uncounted -- counted.

“But what happens when you don’t have a valid address or receive that mail or don’t have access to internet, then that creates a challenge in terms of who might be how many people may be left out of this count,” said Dr. Rhucha Samurdra, a social science professor at Augusta University.

Samurda says research has expressed concern over the undercounting of communities of color. Also, communities with immigrants, children, and people in non-traditional homes. So, this year, reaching the uncounted is even harder.

“There’s always such a disconnect between the resources, people complain about Richmond County lacking compared to other counties and it’s because we’re not counted appropriately,” Samurda said.

But why does it all matter? The census impacts funding for education, health, infrastructure, government assistance programs, and even nonprofits.

“Those dollars help pay for operating costs at my shelter they help provide salaries. We also help provide services in our outreach,” said Aimee Hall, Safe Homes executive director. “So it’s very important that we receive these federal dollars because without those we would not be able to provide the services that we provide.”

The few minutes it takes to fill out the census could change 10 years' worth of money for a community.

“It’s a numbers game, right? We need to have the numbers right,” Samurda said.

Richmond County’s census response rate is at 60 percent -- still below the national average.

If you have not completed the census, you still have time. The final count day is Sept. 30.

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