Call Joe Carn, the Fulton County Board of Commissioners’ District 6 representative, Mr. Census.

Not long after Carn took office in November following a special election the previous month, he started urging Fulton residents to participate in the 2020 U.S. Census.

At the board’s March 18 recess meeting, during a presentation and update on the 2020 Census, Carn encouraged Fulton employees to spread the word about the Census online through social media.

“We’ve got a lot of our employees teleworking right now, possibly in the thousands,” he said. “Our employees are on online, on Instagram. They could send it out to their networks and then they could send it out to their people, hundreds of people.”

Carn did not return email and voicemail messages to his office seeking comment, but he’s done plenty of talking about the subject in meetings and elsewhere. He has good reason to urge residents to take part in this year’s Census.

At the board’s March 4 meeting, while Carn was reading a proclamation regarding the 2020 Census, he said the county in the 2010 Census missed out on $3 billion in federal funding, which totaled $1 trillion nationwide, because the county was undercounted then. He and District 1 Commissioner Liz Hausmann urged everyone living in Fulton to participate in the census so there is an accurate count.

Carn has even posted to his commissioner webpage a public service announcement video encouraging residents to complete their Census forms.

“A few minutes of your time in completing the Census has an impact on how your (taxpayer) dollars are distributed, which communities receive crucial health and human service programs, decisions on which schools and libraries are built,” he said. “All of these and more are determined by you filling out the Census form. The Census also determines how much representation Georgia receives in Congress. None of this can happen without you.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s website, Fulton County had 920,581 residents in 2010, and its last population estimate, dated July 1, 2018, put it at 1.05 million.

A 2018 report posted to the bureau’s website stated the 2010 Census had a net undercount of 4.6% for the population of residents age 0 to 4 compared to a net overcount of 0.1% for the total population. The 4.6% figure equals a net undercount of nearly one million young children.

The census undercount could be attributed to a lack of participation by complex households, which the bureau defines as all households other than nuclear families, single-parent families and single-person households.

One possible reason for the 2010 Census undercount is Fulton residents living in the country illegally chose not to participate for fear of being deported. When asked about that possibility and the impact it could have on this year’s census, Frances Alonzo, a bureau spokesperson, said individuals should take part if their primary residence is in the United States, and their information is protected by law.

“The U.S. Census Bureau is bound by law to protect your answers and keep them strictly confidential,” Alonzo said. “In fact, every employee takes an oath to protect your personal information for life. The answers you provide are used only to produce statistics. You are kept anonymous: The Census Bureau is not permitted to publicly release your responses in any way that could identify you or anyone else in your home.”

Letters and forms have already been sent to residents nationwide asking them to participate in the 2020 Census, requesting info on the number of individuals living in each household on April 1. Anyone can participate in the census by mail, phone or online. The deadline to participate has been extended due to the coronavirus, and residents can fill out the form as late as Aug. 14.

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