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Schools, hospitals, roads, affordable housing: What if you could help ensure that Volusia County receives its fair share of funding for all of these vitally important programs, and many others as well? Sounds like a big ask and an even bigger task. But the good news is that it’ll take less than 10 minutes of your time. All you have to do is complete the 2020 census questionnaire!

It’s not too late to complete your census form. The U.S. Census Bureau has extended the deadline to Aug. 14, but why wait? You can respond in three ways:

Call 844-330-2020.

Complete and return the paper form.

It will only take about 10 minutes, and you don’t need a code to respond online or by phone. Make sure you include everyone in your household, including children and roommates. For those who don’t complete their questionnaire, census teams will start knocking on doors to collect the information in person.

So what is the census, and why do we put so much time and effort into making sure everyone completes it? The census happens every 10 years, and aims to count every person living in the United States, regardless of citizenship or immigration status.

The results of the census are used for many purposes. First, the census determines how many seats each state gets in the U.S. House of Representatives. After the 2010 census, Florida picked up two seats, and we’re expected to gain two more this time around.

Second, census data determines the annual distribution of more than $675 billion in federal funds. And we need to ensure Florida gets its fair share.

Finally, after each census, officials redraw the boundaries of congressional, state and local districts to account for population shifts.

For those concerned about your personal information getting out, please know that it’s against the law for the Census Bureau to publicly release your responses in any way that could identify you or your household. So you can complete the census questionnaire fully confident that your privacy will be protected.

As co-chair of the Volusia County Census Complete Count Committee, we have reached out to trusted voices throughout West Volusia communities — especially in areas with traditionally low reporting history, minority communities in DeLand and Pierson, families with children between the ages of 0 and 5 years old, and renters as well as noncitizens.

The census accounts for all persons using our schools, roads, hospitals and other services regardless of status. So please do your part by ensuring that you, your family and anyone under your roof is counted. By doing that, you’ll better enable me to do my job fighting for more dollars for our West Volusia communities.

— Girtman is a member of the Volusia County Council, representing DeLand-area District 1. She also helps lead the county’s Complete Count Committee for the census.