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Letter: Census isn't properly staffed

Letter: Census isn't properly staffed

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The Census Bureau operates under the Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, who has a legal responsibility to conduct impartially the Census under Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution. Seven major lawsuits have been filed against the Census Bureau. President Trump expressed his desire to cancel the Census that would have been reversed by the Supreme Court. The intent was abandoned in policy but not in execution. The Census 2020 imbroglio did not deliver the simple results of counting individuals. The Census count is a procedure that has been accomplished since 1789, so it is not rocket science.

At the heart of the issue is the non-response rate of individuals to the Census forms. The impartial data source ( https://public.tableau.com/en-us/search/all/%23censusdata ) estimates the Virginia response rate at approximately 70% and the Roanoke rate at 66%. One could conclude that it is a time for a rendition of: "Bring in the Clowns".

And that is precisely what has happened. Most of the local Area Census Offices are staffed by administrative political hacks and overpaid office administrative individuals who lack management and human resource skills. The Enumerators, those who accomplish the difficult door to door count, are in reality paid less than a fast-food worker. An Enumerator has to supply a vehicle, a laptop, and a stable Internet connection. Payments for the required devices can range to $700 per month for a temporary job that may pay as little as $15 per hour for average hours of less than 80 per month not including the huge training costs. The Enumerators work under trying, difficult, and frequently dangerous circumstances and deserve skilled management treatment at the Area Census Office.

The Census Bureau attributes its impacted performance to the Covid-19 issue. That is not the cause. The cause of the Census performance is both the national policy and the local Area Census Offices (ACO's). This is an issue that deserves investigation by Congress and the media. Otherwise, the disaffection will worsen, and progress to equitable democracy will cease and erode the involvement of citizens in building a healthier democracy.

Basil Akers, Roanoke

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