As US Census comes to an end, Orangeburg Co. leaders concerned about an undercount

As US Census comes to an end, Orangeburg Co. leaders concerned about an undercount

ORANGEBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WIS) - The U.S. Census will formally end at 6 a.m. EDT on Friday, October 16.

The consequences of its resolution will just begin.

The U.S. Census helps federal leaders divvy up federal funding. WIS spoke with several Orangeburg County leaders who are concerned their community will be undercounted and subsequently underfunded.

As of this publication, only 53% of Orangeburg County households responded directly to the census (the state average is 60.9%). The rest of the county is being accounted for, but there is concern that half of the county will be undercounted.

On Thursday, Orangeburg County NAACP President Barbara Johnson Williams filed U.S. Census papers and went door to door at a community motel to get residents counted.

“I worry about childcare, I worry about early education for the young kids, I worry about parents and, right now, families don’t have food to eat,” she said.

She said she is also concerned about federal funding for local schools, and the low response rate will not help.

“That’s not great. You’re talking about 60 [percent]? That’s failing. If you in school that’s an F. To me, that’s an F. That’s failing,” she said.

In Holly Hill, Mayor William Johnson expressed similar concerns. 55% of households in his town directly responded to the census.

“There’s some local and county funds that we’ve lost that we cannot make up. We’ll be calling on the federal government for more than we’ve had in the past. Knowing it’s based on population, we’ll not get enough money to meet these shortfalls that we have,” he said.

Both Johnson and Williams said they’ve been actively working to raise awareness about the census, but their work was undermined by a Supreme Court order that sped up the timeline of the census' completion.

On Tuesday, the court allowed the census to end its work so it could meet its law-mandated deadline of Dec. 31 for reporting the results to the president.

The ruling overturned a lower court decision that required the census to continue until the end of October.

Residents can still submit their census information until the 6 a.m. deadline by clicking here.

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