As information from the 2020 U.S. Census continues to be collected, Cherokee County residents are encouraged to fill out their census questionnaire if they have not already done so, officials said.

While residents of Cherokee County are turning in their 2020 census forms at a rate higher than the national average, response rates from residents living in the northeast portions of the county are lagging. U.S. Census Bureau data shows the national response rate of households that have filled out the census online, by mail or by telephone was 60.3% as of May 27. Cherokee County’s response rate is at 60.9%, behind 21 other counties in Georgia. The state as a whole ranks 35th nationally, with a response rate of 56.4%. Northeast Cherokee County’s response rate is lower than the national and state averages, standing at 35.4%, the data shows.

“Getting a complete, accurate county of Cherokee County’s population is crucial when it comes to public funding,” Andrea Barker of the Cherokee County Complete Count Committee said. “This determines the amount of funding that we will receive for the next 10 years. We want to make sure Cherokee County avoids an undercount, which would result in 10 years of underfunding for programs and projects benefiting our residents.”

“It’s concerning because the census determines how federal funds are distributed, district lines are drawn for Congressional representation and helps our communities plan for the future,” John Wallace, a field representative with Congressman Barry Loudermilk’s office, said in a prepared statement. “It’s worth noting that the federal government distributes over $675 billion to states based on the population for healthcare, food, education and roads.”

Barker said door-to-door operations for field data collection, which had to be postponed, have been effective in the past. The U.S. Census Bureau recently resumed field operations in Georgia.

“Those who have not completed the census should expect a visit from a census taker in the coming weeks and months. To avoid that, take a few minutes to fill out the online form,” she said.

Residents can respond to the census online at 2020census.gov, via phone at 844-330-2020 or by mailing a completed census questionnaire. There are no citizenship questions on the census and individual information is kept private.

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