Bakersfield, Calif (KBAK/KBFX) — One day after the supreme court decided not to allow the citizenship question on the 2020 census, local community leaders gathered in downtown Bakersfield to talk about what it means to count.
Mayors from Wasco, Delano, Arvin, McFarland and Shafter were all in attendance, as were minority group leaders and a special advocacy group called California Complete Count, from the Census 2020 office.
They talked about how the census has impacted their communities and ways they can educate people on the importance of filling out the survey.
"If we don’t have data then it's hard for us to properly serve needs," McFarland mayor Manuel Cantu said.
Kern County's unique demographics put it at high risk of being undercounted in the 2020 census.
"Folks are often sketchy about sharing private information about their family, their kids, and we want to make sure that the message is clear to folks that this census and this information is demographic only," Wasco Mayor Alex Garcia explained.
UC Merced Assistant Professor Edward Flores conducted a comprehensive analysis of past census data. He explained how rural parts of California have more immigrants and have shifted away from traditional households making them harder to count.
In 1990 California's undercount rate was almost 3%. The state lost a congressional seat because of it.
So, the group’s goal between now and 2020 is to educate everyone on what it means to count.