Published On: Fri, Jul 17th, 2020

Are You Counted? The US Census Needs Your Response

By: Robert S Weinroth

With much of our daily activities overshadowed by the ever-present coronavirus pandemic, it is easy to understand how the more routine aspects of our lives have felt inconsequential. However, notwithstanding the disruptions we have faced, life does go on. 

Grappling with the likely long-term impacts of the pandemic will require a collaborative effort between government, business and each of us. 

Virtually lost in the swirl of the pandemic response has been the decennial US Census. Unless you live under a rock, you know every ten years we undertake an actual county of the number of people residing in the United States. 

The census is more than just a head count. It provides a snapshot in time (April 1st) of our country’s population and is a determinant of how legislative seats (federal, state and local) are apportioned.

The self-response rate for Palm Beach County is currently less than 60 percent. In other words, with an estimated 1.5 million residents living in our county, 600,000 residents have yet to be counted. In the coming months, enumerators will be dispatched to find many of those who have failed to respond.

It is clear the damage wrought by the pandemic will require a broad federal response to restore our economy and assist residents address the long-term impacts of the pandemic.   

The distribution of federal and state dollars will be directly tied to the census figures. An undercount will skew data used to determine how our state allocates representation in the legislature and local governmental bodies and will, likewise, impact how billions of dollars a year are allocated for schools, hospitals and other infrastructure projects.

If you are one of the 600,000 residents yet to respond to the US Census, now is the time to be counted. 

  • To respond by phone, call 800.330.2020.
  • To respond by mail, locate the census questionnaire sent to your home. (In mid-April, the Census Bureau began mailing paper questionnaires to homes that had not responded online or by phone).

Please, help shape our future – each of us counts!

This month the state’s primary contests and nonpartisan elections for School Board and judges will be decided on August 18th. While over 500,000 Vote by Mail ballots were already sent (beginning last month) there is still time to request a Vote by Mail ballot to avoid to lines and potential health concerns of in-person voting. Ballots can be requested online at www.PBCElections.org

Here’s a little known fact – while you generally must be a registered Democrat or Republican to vote in the primary (except for the nonpartisan races which are open to any voter), where the candidates are all affiliated with the same party, it becomes an “open” primary and all registered voters can cast a ballot. 

This will be the case when voters select from the candidates running for PBC Supervisor of Elections since both are registered Democrats. Even if you are a “No Party Affiliated” voter, you can vote!

This year, due in large part to the pandemic, many seasoned poll workers have declined to accept an assignment. Many precinct-polling locations have been relocated or merged due to health concerns by the hosting venues. 

Voting by Mail offers a safe, convenient way to cast your ballot. And, this year, postage to return your ballot is being paid by the county so there’s no need to locate enough stamps to ensure the proper postage is affixed to the return envelope.

As with responding to the US Census, it is imperative for voters to cast their ballots to shape the future of our county. Stay safe, stay healthy and stay involved!

About the Author

- Robert Weinroth is a 27 year resident of Boca Raton where he is an attorney, businessman, former member of the City Council (where he served for four years) and currently serves as an elected member of the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners. Commissioner Weinroth went to Boston’s Northeastern University where he earned a BSBA in Management. He went on to earn his Juris Doctor at New England School of Law. He is admitted to practice law in Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey and the Supreme Court of the United States. Weinroth served as president and general counsel of Freedom Medical Services Inc, an accredited medical supply company in Boca Raton. FREEDOMED® represented the realization of an entrepreneurial dream. Weinroth, and his wife Pamela operated the company for 16 years, eventually selling the business in 2016. Weinroth takes great pride in his past work as a volunteer Guardian ad Litem for the 15th Judicial Circuit, advocating for the needs of abused and neglected children deemed dependent by the Court. After serving on multiple community boards and committees, Weinroth was elected to the Boca Raton City Council in 2014. During his tenure, he served as CRA Vice-chair and Deputy Mayor and was appointed to a number of county boards including the Boca Raton Airport Authority, the Palm Tran Service Board, the Palm Beach Transportation Planning Agency, the Treasure Coast Planning Council and was elected a board member of the Palm Beach County League of Cities. Commissioner Weinroth serves as County Vice-Mayor and has been appointed Chair of the Solid Waste Authority, a board member of the PBC Transportation Planning Agency, and alternate representative on the Treasure Coast Planning Agency and several other county and regional boards. Robert, Pamela and their two dogs, Sierra and Siggy, are proud to call Boca Raton home.

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