Keeping Focus on the 2020 Census

Posted By: Mary Dell Hayes Advocacy ,

By Mary Dell Hayes
United Way Association of SC

October 10 Update - U.S. Supreme Court to Decide on Census Extension

In the next few days, the U.S. Supreme Court will make a decision on whether the 2020 Census count is complete or whether it will be extended through October 31. Last Wednesday, a federal court once again ruled that the U.S. Census Bureau must continue the Census count through October 31. The Trump administration quickly appealed the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that the Census Bureau needed to stop the count by its internal deadline of October 5 to be able to deliver final Census data to the President by December 31, as required by federal statute. 
If the Census count is not extended through the end of the month, tens of thousands of South Carolinians will be missed in the 2020 Census. This will cost South Carolina communities billions of dollars in federal funding for public schools, childcare, health care, affordable housing, food assistance, and many other programs over the next decade. 
Congress could allow the Census count to continue through October 31 by passing bipartisan legislation to extend the Census reporting deadlines that the Census Bureau has identified as the reason for ending the count early. Your nonprofit can help by contacting to our U.S. Senators asking them to take action on this legislation immediately.

September 25 Update

Hello Census Warriors!

The U.S. Census Bureau is planning to end its in-person operations next Wednesday, September 30. That would also be the deadline for households to self-respond to the Census by mail, email, or phone.

Late last night, however, a federal judge in California ruled that the Census count must continue through October 31. The U.S. Department of Justice is expected to appeal that decision, so the final day of the Census count remains unclear.

Together SC is one of about 200 national and statewide organizations to formally endorse the bipartisan Census Deadline Extensions Act (S.4571), which was introduced in the U.S. Senate last week. That bill would extend key Census deadlines by four months and require the Census Bureau to continue the 2020 Census count through October 31.

  • It is likely that the period through Oct. 31 will focus on quality checking and ensuring that low response areas have more than one opportunity to respond to an enumerator visit.
  • There are still more than 140,000 households in SC that need to be counted.
  • For them to be concluded by Sept 30, the census takers would have to count close to 30,000 households a day or close to 2,500 households per hour. We believe this to be physically impossible given the geography of SC and many of our undercounted areas.
  • The most important thing for the state of South Carolina is a complete and an accurate count.
  • A 1% undercount will leave billions of our taxpayer dollars going to other states with a more complete count. We can’t afford for our fair share of resources to support schools, roads, healthcare, and economic development in other states.

What should you do in your community?

  • Do not rush to change any materials that already say Sept 30.
  • Sept 30 will likely conclude most major census response operations
  • Continue to push out the Day of Action. This will be our last MAJOR effort to get out the count!
  • Regroup and see what people have interest/capacity to do. Some people are done and that’s okay! We just need to hyper-focus moving forward (if you elect to continue) on areas where undercount is significant.
  • Keep your eyes out for more information in the next week!


August 17 Update

There are only 45 days left for census self-response and SC is falling behind in the count. A complete count will ensure we get our fair share of resources for any federally funded program. The impact of the pandemic and shortened time frame for completion make it critical for community organizations to take the lead.

  • Has everyone at your organization gone to and complete the census for their household?
  • What about the people you serve?
  • Can you promote census completion in your communication channels?
It takes about 10 minutes to complete the census and makes an impact for 10 years. Let’s ensure every South Carolinian is recognized, acknowledged, valued, and counted.

July 31 Update

On Friday, July 31 the US Census Bureau announced it will conclude the nonresponse follow up and self-response of the 2020 census on September 30, 2020. This is one month short of the pandemic-adjusted timeframe to achieve a complete count. SC is currently 44th in the nation for self-response. The people who are most likely to be undercounted are those who already face ongoing discrimination and hardship. The systems that will be deprived of resources for the next 10 years are those impacting every South Carolinian including our schools, roads, and other programs that impact our daily lives.

The US Census Bureau reports that there are difficulties with hiring, training, and retaining adequate numbers of enumerators due to the pandemic.

We are calling on communities to take aggressive steps in August and September to ensure a complete count of all South Carolinians.

Self-response is the most accurate way to ensure that every resident of SC is counted. It is safe and easy to go to or to call (English: 844-330-2020 Espanol: 844-468-2020) to complete the census.

 We cannot rely on state data or wait for door knockers to get the job done. Without bold action, we are on a path to achieve a minimally adequate result. It’s on us to post on social media, call constituents, and engage supporters to ensure every South Carolinian is recognized, acknowledged, valued, and counted. Stand up for your community and promote self-response to the 2020 census today.

Join us on Tuesday, August 4 at 10:00am to learn more about the adjusted census timeframe and what you can do to make a difference:

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 894 1772 6145

Passcode: 186599

One tap mobile

+13017158592,,89417726145#,,,,,,0#,,186599# US (Germantown)


June 5 UPDATE:

SC currently ranks 39th in the nation for census response. We can and must get every resident counted to ensure our state has the resources we need for the next 10 years. Wednesday, June 17 is a National Census Day of Action. Getting a complete count in SC is key to advancing equity in our state. Please post about the census on social media, email your constituents, make phone calls, host giveaways, and plan other activities that will lead to people completing the census. The US Census Bureau still has not resumed in-person events so it’s on us to get a complete count in SC.

May 22 UPDATE:

SC has moved up another notch, from 39th to 38th in the nation for census self-response!!!

Help to get every resident counted.

A complete count will drive resources for the next 10 years for some of our most critical programs including Title I schools, SNAP and WIC programs, public housing, and other critical services.

Lieutenant Governor Pamela Evette worked with The Carolina Agency and SC leaders to put together an awesome video sharing the importance of completing the census.

Please share the video on your social media channels.

Video link:

Sample text for posts:

The 2020 Census decides how $800 Billion dollars go to town and cities like yours. The money is used to pay for important things that make life better for you, your family, and your kids for years to come. Each person counted equals about $2,900 per year for their community. If just 100 people in your area don’t participate, your schools, roads, hospitals lose $3 million dollars over the next 10 years. YOU count to make change for the better. Go to to count your household today. #CountMeInSC #SCCounts2020 #CountMeIn

Thanks for everything you are doing to promote a complete count in SC!

April 23 UPDATE:

What’s changed?

The US Census Bureau has adjusted their operational timeline to extend the self-response period until October 31. Census takers will go door to door from mid-August through the end of October. The US Census Bureau has requested a 120 day extension to reporting data to the President and Congress. This change requires congressional approval.

What stays the same?

It’s never been more important or easier to complete the census. People can use the mailed paper form, call a census line, or go to to complete the census.

Why should I complete the census?

The census not only determines representation and redistricting, but also is used to guide economic development, create formulas that determine how funds are distributed for important federal programs, and make other decisions that impact our daily lives.

What should I do about it?

1)     Make sure that your family is counted. All residents of your home as of April 1, 2020 should be counted.

2)     Ensure that your coworkers are counted. Include census completion in staff meetings, email the census link to your team, and continually promote completion.

3)     Help the people you serve to complete the census. Include census flyers in mailings, post notices at your location, set up phone banks, post on social media, and provide in person assistance while people complete the census.

South Carolina is currently 41st in the nation for census response.

We can and must achieve a complete count to ensure that we receive our fair share of resources.

If you have questions about how you can help promote census completion, email Mary Dell Hayes at

UPDATE:  Census Extends Deadline to Mid-August

UPDATE:  Census Suspends Field Operations Amid Coronavirus Fears, New York Times March 19, 2020

UPDATE:  We want to reiterate the Census Bureau’s messaging in response to COVID-19:  It has never been easier to respond on your own, whether online, over the phone or by mail—all without having to meet a census taker.

The next few weeks are critical for nonprofits to prepare to help their consumers and constituents get counted in the 2020 census.

If 100 people are missed in a community, that represents more than $3M in federal resources that should come to SC that will go to other states instead. We can’t afford to miss a single person!

Who should be counted? Anyone who lives in SC on April 1, 2020.

Where should they be counted? At their primary residence, even if they don’t technically or legally live there. 

How can they count? Most people will receive a postcard to participate online in late March, but some people will receive a paper copy of the census to participate.

The SC Grantmaker’s Network, TogetherSC, the SC Commission for Minority Affairs, and the United Way Association of South Carolina are working together to ensure resources are shared across the state.

Anyone working on increasing census participation can apply for a minigrant. 

Laurens, Spartanburg, Orangeburg, Charleston, and Florence have unique opportunities to ensure their communities count.

Contact Mary Dell Hayes at to learn more about training and strategy sessions being held in your community.

We are collaborating with the Emily Revolutionary Marketing Group in Newberry to develop SC specific messaging and collateral materials for public use. Check us out on social media (@SCCounts2020) or at


Mid-March: postcard invitations to participate go to individual households

Mid-March through April: up to 4 follow up reminders by mail sent to individual households

May and June: enumerators go door to door for households that have not self-responded

I wanted to flag a tool to track 2020 Census response rates across the country.  As self-responses come in, the map will be updated and you can track responses in your communities.  (Currently it shows 2010 self-response rates.)  The map can be found here:

I also wanted to flag Census Bureau new tool—the Response Outreach Area Mapper (ROAM)—to help identify hard-to-count areas.  The ROAM application can be found here:

Here’s an alternate Hard-To-Count map (through CUNY): 

We're in this together, Allies!

Mary Dell Hayes