Starting March 12th, 2020, the next big count of the US Population began. Folks who understand just how important the US Census is are doing all they can to rally whomever they can to help! An accurate count is critical, especially to LI, which already tends to get a lot less back in tax dollars than it invests.
An undercount would be DEVASTATING to folks living in poverty – and there are already WAY too many hungry children on LI -- but really, it affects EVERYONE, and not just because we are all better off when we work together to keep our most vulnerable populations from slipping through the cracks.
Said Rebecca Sanin of the Health & Welfare Council, who has been working even harder than usual to provide public education, rallying every sector on Long Island to realize their own self interest here and to help make sure we get these numbers right, “It is critically important that we recognize our power to shape the future of our own region and harness our great strengths. To do that, we have to make sure that our human capital is recognized and that EVERYONE is counted. We ALL need to be ambassadors.”
THE CENSUS COUNT IMPACTS FUNDING NYS RECEIVES FOR ALL SORTS OF THINGS THROUGH 2030!!! The American Communities Survey will provide all sorts of information in the meanwhile, but it cannot undue damage done by an undercount in the Census. Among other things, the US Census impacts Federal Funding and Other Considerations for:
- Road and other Infrastructure Funding
- Emergency Funding – Among other things, this is how FEMA knows what resources are needed in times of disaster!
- Schools - All districts are affected. Challenged ones get hit even harder. A 2010 undercount of children ages infant-4 in Wyandanch in 2010 continues to impact their school district funding and their planning – the much higher actual number of children meant they weren’t only short-funded, but didn’t have adequate space! They had to allocate precious funds to rent space in another district, rather than get dollars it deserved to invest in its own!
- PELL Grant and Student Loan Funding - Ok…so we run the risk that our schools will already be underfunded for a whole decade. Then, on top of it, we won’t get a fair share of college funding!
- Title I Grants, Special Education, Head Start
- Hospital Funding, Medicaid, Medicare, State Children’s Health Insurance, Health Care Centers
- School Breakfast Programs, WIC, Child Care Funding
- Affordable Housing Funding
- Government Representation - Undercounting by just .6% could cost NY 2 seats in Congress. We already lost 2 in 2010! This also effects the Electoral College
Plus, we all use this data to plan! Businesses use census data to determine where and what to invest. Non profits use it to plan programs and secure funding. Policy makers rely on it to govern.
Long Island has a lot at stake, and is generally the toughest nut to crack. Really, it’s critical we properly count the whole state. Those off-Island numbers mean enough to our region that folks like the LI Community Foundation are helping out beyond their normal borders. However, Suffolk and Nassau are the 4th and 5th hardest counties to count in New York State. The top three challenges are our neighbors in Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx.
Particularly difficult populations to count include young children, immigrant communities, people of color and seniors. This is partly because of the digital divide so the messages don’t reach everyone, partly because people are distrustful of government in the current climate, and partly because there simply isn’t adequate funding available for the outreach needed for the count. While we need to be mindful of scams and to help folks avoid them, we also need to make it clear: Title 13 of the US Code protects your information. Regardless of immigration status or living arrangements, the Census cannot share identifiable information. The data is anonymized and used solely for statistics. It cannot be used against you by any government agency or court.
As folks in poverty will be hit hardest – and we’re already experiencing the highest poverty rate since 1959! -- The Health & Welfare Council is working even harder than usual so it can help bridge this potential gap. They have built an army of Census ambassadors—a coalition that includes leaders in education, business, the nonprofit sector, faith-based leadership and much more. In addition, they are creating toolkits and other resources for various sectors. They are still seeking more of these folks to participate. Really though, EVERYONE can help by talking about this issue and getting involved!
To Learn More: Please visit www.hwcli.com/get-involved/2020-census/
You may also contact: Rebecca Sanin, President & CEO of the Health & Welfare Council at firstname.lastname@example.org; 516-505-4423
Update -- This article originally said the Census began in April. It has been updated to reflect that it actually officially started on March 12, 2020.
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By Erica West, Secretary of the League of Women Voters of Huntington, NY
Last month we reminded readers that voters in Suffolk County will be electing our County Executive and County Legislators, Town Officials, and Family Court and District Court Judges. Election Day is on Tuesday, November 5th. Polls will be open from 6 am to 9 pm.
This year is what is sometimes called an off-year election. It’s not the presidential election, which takes place every four years, and it’s not the midterms, when we elect state and federal representatives, which take place every two years. It’s all local elections, town and county, and often the voter turnout is far below the years when the other contests take place. Some may think that these local elections are not important, when in fact they are the elections that affect our everyday lives. We may not see our local races on the news very often, and some might feel that they don’t know enough to decide who to vote for, or that they can’t find reliable information on the candidates. We’d like to help with that.
Meet the Candidates
The League of Women Voters of Huntington is co-sponsoring three Meet the Candidates Night debates. Other Leagues in Suffolk are also sponsoring events for elected offices that represent their towns. Details are at the end of this article. These non-partisan events are a chance for you to meet the candidates who want to represent you, and to hear the candidates discuss issues that affect you and your community.
Vote411.org Voter Guide
You can also find the election information you need on Vote411.org, the League of Women Voters online voter guide. You can go to Vote411.org, enter your address and get a personalized ballot and information on polling places and voter registration.
We also let readers know last month that early voting, which is new this year for New York voters, will begin in Suffolk County on Saturday, October 26 and continue every day until Sunday, November 3rd. Times and places are listed on the Suffolk County Board of Elections website: You may have visited the Board of Elections website some time ago and seen that the Board of Elections was instructing voters that they had to use the polling location in their town for early voting. That recently changed, and now Suffolk voters can use any of the listed polling places to take advantage of early voting.
When we’ve been out and about in our community for voter registration events, we’ve had a lot of conversations about early voting, and why one would want to vote early instead of going to the poll on Election Day. For those who work during the week, take note that early voting is available during both weekends prior to Election Day. Folks might also keep an eye on the weather – a storm on Election Day might discourage you from venturing out, so think about voting early to make sure you don’t miss your chance to participate in this year’s election.
New Voting Reforms Coming in 2020
This year also saw other voting reforms passed by the New York State legislature and signed by the Governor. Here are just two:
Party Enrollment Deadline Change: Before this new law, voters in New York wanted to change their party enrollment had to do so 25 days before the general election before the primary in which they wanted to vote. Beginning in 2020, they’ll have until February 14 (Valentine’s Day!) of the year in which the primary will be held.
Preregistration to Vote for 16- and 17-year olds:
This new law, which takes effect on January 1, 2020, allows 16- and 17-year-olds to preregister to vote. The voter registration form will be modified to include space where there is an explanation of preregistration and allow for the form to be pending. The registration will automatically take effect when the person becomes 18-year old. It also requires local boards of education to adopt policies to promote student voter registration and pre-registration. Citizens must still be 18-years old on or before Election Day to be eligible to vote.
While we’re happy about all the voting reforms enacted recently, we’re particularly pleased about this one because the League is very active in voting education of and outreach to the youth in our community.
There’s always more to say about voting rights and the importance of voting. For now we hope we’ve inspired you to get out and vote in this year’s General Election and that you will also reach out to your friends and neighbors and encourage them to vote as well.
Meet the Candidates Night Debates in Suffolk County
(for additional info, go to https://my.lwv.org/new-york/suffolk-county/upcoming-events )
Monday, October 14th at 7:00 pm
Suffolk County Legislative District 6 candidate debate
Sound Beach Firehouse
152 Sound Beach Blvd
Sound Beach, NY
Co-Sponsored by the Sound Beach Civic Association
Wednesday, October 16 7:00 pm
East Hampton Town Supervisor and East Hampton Town Council (2) candidate debate
East Hampton Library
159 Main St.
East Hampton, NY
Wednesday, October 16 7:00 pm
Suffolk County Legislative Districts 13, 16, 17 and 18 candidate debate.
Five Towns College Performing Arts Center
305 North Service Road (entrance on Burrs Lane)
Dix Hills, NY
( just off exit 50 of the Long Island Expressway)
Co-sponsored by Five Towns College
Thursday, October 17 7:00 pm
Southampton Town Supervisor and Southampton Councilman (2) candidate debate
91 Coopers Farm Rd
Thursday, October 17 7:00 pm
Suffolk County Legislative District 13 candidate debate
Nesaquake Middle School
479 Edgewood Ave
St James, NY
LWV Smithtown and LWV Huntington, co-sponsors
Monday, October 21 7:00 pm
Suffolk County Executive candidate debate
Kings Park High School
Kings Park, NY
Tuesday, October 22 7:00 pm
Huntington Town Council, Town Clerk and Receiver of Taxes candidate debate
Harborfields Public Library
Co-sponsored by the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce.
All candidates who will be on the ballot have been invited to participate.
About the League of Women Voters of Huntington:
The League of Women Voters of Huntington is a non-partisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of public policy issues, and influences policy through education and advocacy. Membership is open to women and men 16 years and older. If you are looking for a rewarding opportunity to give back to your community, please consider supporting or joining our League! You can contact us at 631-421-5164, or email LWVHuntingtonNY@gmail.com
The new laws described above, making voting easier for New Yorkers, were made possible by the focused efforts of grass roots groups like the League of Women Voters. We are working hard to help you make sure your voice is heard!