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In-Person Census Canvassing By Advocacy Groups Put On Hold Due to Coronavirus

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Community groups working in L.A. County to promote census participation in historically undercounted areas are pausing their in-person canvassing efforts. The decision was made to prevent possible spread of the coronavirus.

Now, groups plan to shift messaging online and over the phone, with census-related social media ads and phone banking.

Alejandra Zarate of We Count LA, told us:

“We are having to adjust our entire campaign. While the census is important, everybody’s health and safety is the utmost priority.”

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In-person canvassing is often the only way information about the census reaches communities who don't speak English or don't have internet access. (Courtesy of U.S. Census Bureau)
The new protocol will stay in place until after April 1st, the official Census Day.

Zarate manages a county-wide network of community-based organizations that have mobilized over the past few months to reach Census Bureau-designated “hard-to-count” communities.

She said some community groups are working with the Census Bureau to see if national operations — like in-person enumeration — could be extended.

“It’s up to the Census Bureau. They would essentially need to do the time crunch, the data calculations on a shorter timeline. ” Zarate said. “It would be up to Congress to give them additional funding.”

Zarate said she’s conflicted about changing the census process, because extending the count could mean less political representation in the meantime. For now, she’s working to encourage census participation online and trying to stay positive.

“The more we stay connected with each other in untraditional ways," she said, "the more we will tap into that sense of comradery—that we will be counted.”

Have questions about the 2020 census? Ask us here.

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