Census 2020: Counting the Hard to Count

The 2020 Census is less than a year away. And as the state government, local governments, and community organizations plan their outreach and awareness efforts, it is important to note that some Arkansans are more likely to be left out of the Census. Many of them are part of communities that are marginalized and discriminated against. Ensuring a more complete count is important, not only to guarantee that our state has the resources it needs, but also to make sure that every Arkansan has a voice in important decisions that are being made at local, state, and federal levels.

Groups of people and locations that have historically been undercounted in the Census are considered “Hard-to-Count.”

They include:

  • Children under the age of 5
  • People of color
  • People with limited English language skills
  • People in rural communities
  • People who distrust the government
  • People with disabilities
  • LGBTQ+ individuals
  • People who move a lot
  • People who are experiencing homelessness

There are also specific locations in the state where you see high concentrations of Hard-To-Count populations:

  • The Delta
  • Southern Arkansas
  • Areas of north central Arkansas
  • Parts of Pulaski County

If your group or organization is working to get out the count in these communities, you should make a thoughtful outreach plan customized to each group or place. Identify what barriers keep them from participating in the Census, like misconceptions about privacy or lack of internet access. Ask them what messages would make them most likely to complete the census. Figure out where people are already getting information that you can connect with, like their children’s schools or the local radio station. Determine who are the community members they trust. An outreach strategy that is personal can make a big difference in getting an accurate count next year.

An accurate count of historically undercounted groups in 2020 could have significant impact over the next 10 years. An accurate count would ensure we receive the federal dollars we need for things like schools, roads, and health care. It would make sure each Arkansan is considered when the state redraws voting districts. And at a fundamental level, an accurate census next year means we count, we exist, we matter, and we each have a voice.

To find out more about how you can help at arcounts.org.