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Roanoke to start using billboards, buses to promote 2020 census

Billboards going up, signs added to buses in May

ROANOKE, Va. – Whether you realize it or not, the census will have an impact on you.

“Census numbers equal census dollars coming back into our community,” Roanoke Community Engagement Manager Tiffany Bradbury said.

The more people respond to the census, the more money the state gets for programs like Medicaid and Social Security and even to deal with pandemics like the coronavirus.

“This coronavirus just shows how important it really is to make sure we have an accurate account in Virginia, that we know how many people are living here and that we know where they’re living so that we can make sure those communities are getting the resources that they need," Secretary of the Commonwealth Kelly Thomasson said.

In Roanoke, just over 50 percent of people had filled out their census form as of Thursday.

Bradbury said billboards and signs on buses will be going up to promote the census.

“It kind of is your duty to take that 10 minutes (to fill out your census form),” said Bradbury.

Nineteen cities and counties in the 10 News viewing area, however, had less than a 50 percent response Thursday, with the lowest being just under 25 percent in Highland County.

Census data also has a big impact on elections.

Brian Cannon is the executive director of OneVirginia2021, a nonprofit working to end gerrymandering.

He says the census is critical now with redistricting expected to happen next year.

“It’s really important to know where people live in Virginia so we can draw fair districts," said Cannon.

Counting every person in the United States is a massive undertaking, but has huge benefits locally in the long run.