Better to hold off on census response in Taos County for now

If you haven't yet responded to the census, it's better to wait until you've received your 12-digit personal ID code, which will arrive some time after June 13. Courtesy image

If you haven't yet received your census 2020 questionnaire or respondent code, you're not alone – but it's best to wait until you have the code before you respond.

The process by which 79 percent of Taos County residents will receive their questionnaire and 12-digit unique ID code has been put on hold until June 13. If you're one of those, you won't get your materials until some time between June 13 and July 9.

Following two weeks of deliberation, the U.S. Census Bureau and the state of New Mexico determined that it's best to encourage residents to respond using their 12-digit code rather than their physical address. If you haven't yet submitted your questionnaire either by mail or online, wait until you receive your code number.

Due to COVID-19, the U.S. Census Bureau suspended all field operations just four days after they began. This included efforts by census workers to hand-deliver forms to households that don't have standard addresses or that receive their mail via post office boxes.

Nationwide, only 5 percent of the population falls into this category, but 17.8 percent of New Mexican households rely on a hand-delivered form. Only Alaska, West Virginia and Wyoming have a higher percentage.

"The bottom line is, if you have received your invitation, take your census as soon as possible," said Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. "If you haven't received anything from the Census Bureau, wait to receive your census invitation, and respond as soon as possible once you receive the form. We will ensure, all together, that New Mexico is counted."

Olivia Padilla-Jackson, secretary of Finance and Administration and chair of the state's Complete Count Commission, added, "New Mexico is shouldering a disproportionate share of the national burden when it comes to the impact that COVID-19 has had on the census. When you consider that so many New Mexicans haven't even received an invitation to participate, it's no surprise we lag in responses."

To date (April 14), 37 percent of New Mexico households have responded to the census, compared to a national average of 48 percent.

All other census-related efforts have been pushed back as well. The Census Bureau has requested a four-month delay on delivering the final count to the president, which would make it April 30 of next year rather than the customary Dec. 30.

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