I have an important request. In fact, it’s a vital one!

If you have not yet responded to the 2020 Census, please do so as soon as possible. It is essential to the betterment of Beaufort County – including both Hilton Head Island and Daufuskie – that census data be as comprehensive as possible.

Quite frankly, our current response here in Beaufort County and especially on Hilton Head Island, has been pretty dismal this year, especially when compared to the rest of the U.S.

In each of the previous two census years (2000 and 2010) nationwide participation was approximately 75%. As of this writing the national rate is only 64%, and in South Carolina it is 58.6% – which is near the bottom of all states (ranking 44th).

But, here in Beaufort County it is even worse (48.3%) and on Hilton Head Island it is worse yet – not quite 41%. And, we have only until the end of September to get it done.

Why does the U.S. Census matter, you may ask. Simple answer: It serves as the foundation of our representative democracy. Those who wrote the Constitution made a national headcount the very first task of the Federal Government for a reason.

Article One of the Constitution directs that the population be counted once every 10 years, and results are then used to set the number of members from each state in the House of Representatives as well as the Electoral College. 

In addition, census data directly affects how hundreds of billions each year in federal and state funding is allocated to communities for local physical improvements, public health, education, transportation, fire districts and more. The Census Bureau is mandated with collection of statistics and fulfilling subsequent obligations. 

The Bureau’s legal authority is codified in Title 13 of the U.S. Code. As one researcher pointed out to me, “states and local communities can lose big time when they don’t accurately count.” According to data from the 2020 South Carolina Census, an estimated $3,000 per person, per year in federal funding will be lost for every person who does not fill out their Census form.

According to the Beaufort County Administrator’s office there are eight census tracts on Hilton Head Island that are currently notably lagging even behind the South Carolina average. These are Windmill Harbour and Squire Pope Road area (54.8%), Long Cove/Wexford/ Shipyard and Point Comfort (53.2%), northern sections of Sea Pines (46.6%), Hilton Head Airport/Mitchelville area (39.3%), southern area of Sea Pines (24.0%), North Forest Beach (16.7%), Folly Field/Singleton Beach (14.1%) and South Forest Beach (12.4%).

I encourage all who have not taken time to fill out the forms, which were mailed in March and April, please take this seriously. If you have misplaced or lost your forms you can still be counted by going online to my2020census.gov or by calling 844-330-2020. It takes just 10 minutes to complete.

Jeff Bradley is the representative for District 123 in the State House of Representatives.