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Russell Steele: Overwhelmed and under-counted

The U.S. government is preparing for the 2020 census starting April 2020, and it is going be online.

The 2020 Census is going to rely heavily on you answering the Census questions on your smartphones, tablet, laptops, desktops. If you do not submit an online Census form, a live census takers will follow up with a visit.

How is that going to work in rural counties with limited broadband connections, like Nevada County? According to the FCC estimates, there are about 21 million rural homes without broadband. FCC’s dirty little secret — the FCC has no idea how many homes don’t have broadband, nor does the California PUC.

I predict the Census Bureau is going to be overwhelmed by the level of non-responsive rural households. There are areas in rural Nevada County where few people can respond online. They do not have broadband access or will be unable to navigate the online Census on small screen smartphones.

When the counting is done, those live census takers will know how many homes in Nevada County do not have broadband. A collateral benefit of the 2020 census. We need a box on the Manual Census Form — “No Broadband!”

Russell Steele



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