If you haven't filled out your California 2020 census form, it's too late now. With the deadline shifted from Oct. 31 to Oct. 15 due to legal wranglings by the Trump administration, the window for being counted closed at 11:59 p.m. Hawaii Daylight Time or 2:59 .am Friday Pacific Daylight Time.
The good news is that by Thursday afternoon Ridgecrest had already responded at a greater rate than in 2010, said Diana Crofts-Pelayo, assistant deputy director of external affairs and media relations for California Complete Count Census 2020.
"Ridgecrest has done a really good job. You guys kicked butt compared to 2010," she said.
By the numbers, 71.3 percent of Ridgecrest households self-reported to the census in 2020 as compared to 70.4 percent in 2010.
This also places Ridgecrest almost two percentage points over the response in California as a whole as of Thursday afternoon, Crofts-Pelayo said.
Ridgecrest also scores as one out of 335 of the 482 total cities in California that met or exceeded their response from 10 years ago.
As of Thursday afternoon, over 10 1/2 million households in California had already responded to the census, including some 2.4 million from the harder-to-count communities. 1.2 million more households responded in 2020 than 2010. In addition, 1.9 million more responded than in 2000.
The self-response rate was 69.4 percent as of Oct. 12, and 44 out of 58 counties had met or exceed their self-response rate from 2010 as of Oct. 8.
Meanwhile, the statewide response rate hit 69.6 percent as of October 15, according to Crofts-Pelayo Friday. This is up from 69.4 percent the previous day -- indicating the last minute push for more responses did some good.
The simple form usually takes only minutes to fill out and can net big rewards. Federal funding per person counted can run as high as $1,000 a year, meaning a family of two who declined to be counted may have cost their city as much as $20,000 during the time period between now and the next census.
The time required to complete the form was minimal according to Crofts-Pelayo.
"We joke around that you probably add more in a BuzzFeed quiz to figure out your Harry Potter house than you do in this [census] form," she said.
Census data impacts a myriad of services, including everything from emergency response plans to funding for public schools, according to Ditas Katague, director of California Complete Count Census 2020.
California during the 2020 census focused self-response as the most effective way of obtaining accurate data. The constitutional responsibility of the state is to staff up and implement a complete and accurate count. Once that is done it's the job of the U.S. Census Bureau to get everyone counted.
"This is one of the most complex operations that the government undertakes other than war," Katague said. She added that all census data is fully confidential and constitutionally protected.
It's difficult to say whether pushing the deadline forward by two weeks will have a significant impact on services for the next 10 years, but some people are wondering.
There are plenty of questions on how accurate the data will be given the shortening of the time period, Katague said.
"Accurate census data impacts re-apportionment, congressional seats" and the drawing of district lines, she said. It is also used in everything from planning emergency wildfire evacuations to hospital bed allocations and classroom sizes, she added.
"If the data is incorrect we are basing a lot of our future planning on incorrect data," Katague said.