Editorial: Census participation is vital; please complete questionnaire

Missouri residents have, or will receive soon, invitations to complete the 2020 Census. Your participation is vital when it comes to funding of programs and representation in government.

The questionnaire can be completed with the paper copy or online at my2020census.gov. Online is preferred method, according to Melissa Stickel, executive director of Community Partnership in Cape Girardeau. Stickel was appointed by Cape Girardeau Mayor Bob Fox to head efforts for Cape Girardeau County.

Due to the coronavirus, census workers will not be going door to door until late May, Stickel told the Southeast Missourian on Tuesday.

Workers will focus on households who have yet to submit a questionnaire. They will be identified with an official badge and clothing and have a bag with the official census logo.

"The first thing they'll do is show their badge," Stickel told Southeast Missourian reporter Marybeth Niederkorn.

Census workers will not ask for your Social Security numbers or political or religious affiliations, Stickel said.

COVID-19 has led to school closures and alterations. However, Stickel said college students are counted based on where they were scheduled to live during the spring semester. She said Southeast Missouri State University is spearheading efforts to count students who were in the dorms before the campus closed, but those who were living off campus and have now left for the balance of the semester should still count themselves as if they were still living in Cape Girardeau.

Those who need assistance completing the questionnaire may call Community Partnership at (573) 651-3747.

Census data affects many things, ranging from federal funding of programs to representation in Congress. Counting every person matters. If you haven't already completed the questionnaire, please do.