Self-response (copy)

The 2020 United States Census is coming in March, and we want every person in Madison and Dane County to be counted.

Today, we are calling on all of our community leaders to help us encourage people to participate in the 2020 Census. We only get one shot at getting an accurate headcount once every 10 years. That’s why 2020 will be an all-hands-on-deck moment for us to reach out to the people we work with, the people in our neighborhoods, those in our places of worship and the people we serve. As the new chair and vice-chair of the city of Madison’s Complete Count Committee, we’re ready to lead local efforts to invite people to participate.

Madison needs everyone to be counted. From our elders in nursing homes to newborn babies, every person should be counted. Whether you’re a college student, you’re incarcerated or you’re experiencing homelessness, you should be counted.

The Census is a national headcount that is a source of very important data. Local government and nonprofit organizations use Census data to get funding for critical services. Data is used for social science research that helps us understand how our community is growing and changing. Census data is what is used to draw legislative districts. We need a complete and accurate count to ensure everyone is represented by our elected leaders.

With so much at stake, you can help us talk about the importance of the Census. The survey itself has been the source of controversy, questions and court cases. Some people in our community will be concerned about their privacy. We want people to know that their responses to the Census are confidential and protected by law. Census responses cannot be shared with law enforcement, immigration, landlords, creditors or even the president.

Our community has deep diversity. Our community has also grown and changed a lot in the past decade. The Census helps us understand how deep our diversity really is.

One place where our community’s diversity is very deep is at the University of Wisconsin. We have students, teachers, visiting professors, researchers from all over the globe, first-generation college students, DACA scholars and staff who keep the whole institution running. We are from Wisconsin and everywhere. And everyone counts.

It’s going to take education, enthusiasm and understanding to make sure we have a complete count in 2020. We’re here to do that. Please join us.

Shelia Stubbs is a state representative for Wisconsin's 77th Assembly District and is chair of Madison’s Complete Count Committee. Brenda González is UW-Madison's director of community relations and is vice-chair of Madison’s Complete Count Committee.

Share your opinion on this topic by sending a letter to the editor to tctvoice@madison.com. Include your full name, hometown and phone number. Your name and town will be published. The phone number is for verification purposes only. Please keep your letter to 250 words or less.

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