With the clock ticking, San Juan County works to get residents to respond to 2020 census

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
Shelby Markle and Levi Thomas hang up a sign encouraging people to fill out their 2020 Census.

FARMINGTON — San Juan County residents visiting Chef Bernie's on Sept. 25 had the chance to fill out their census and get a free meal during a buy-one-get-one free promotion.

This event came as the county works to get all residents counted. The U.S. Census happens every 10 years and determines federal funding as well as political representation. The Census Bureau has set the deadline to respond to the census as the end of this month.

Chef Bernie's offered a promotion, Friday, Sept. 25, 2020, to encourage people to fill out the census.

However, less than a week ahead of the deadline, a federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted a motion for stay and preliminary injunction. This requires the 2020 Census to count to continue until the end of October. During the spring, the deadline was pushed back to Oct. 31. But, in August, it was moved forward to the end of September. This prompted various entities, including the Navajo Nation, to file for a preliminary injunction.

The U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Commerce are anticipated to file an appeal. Because this decision could be appealed, officials are still encouraging people to fill out the census by the end of September.

Levi Thomas, dressed as the Count from the children's show "Sesame Street," fills out his census using a kiosk, Friday, Sept. 25, 2020, at Chef Bernie's in Farmington.

"It's just so important to be counted in the census," said Devin Neeley, who heads the San Juan County Complete Count Commission. "With all the challenges facing our area, everybody should realize how important it is to be counted. It's about money, it's about redistricting, it's about representation in Washington. It's all of those things and it just takes 10 minutes to do."

People who have not filled out their census can do so by going to my2020census.gov. The census can also be completed by calling 844-330-2020. Spanish speakers can call 844-468-2020.

The San Juan County self-response rate as of Sept. 25 was 50.3%.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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Kiosks set up at Chef Bernie's on Friday, Sept. 25, 2020, allowed residents to fill out the census.
Shelby Markle, social media director for San Juan County Counts, answers questions for a resident trying to fill out the census, Friday, Sept. 25, 2020, at Chef Bernie's in Farmington.