Numbers matter.

Businesses make decisions on where to build based on numbers. Federal and state funds are distributed to communities, schools, etc… based largely on numbers. And numbers even play a role in our voice in government.

Where do the numbers come from?

The census.

Each 10 years, a census attempting to account for every person living in the United States is required by the Constitution.

The 24th United States census will take place this year and everyone needs to participate - even if you have avoided doing so in the past.

Just ask State Sen. Casey Murdock.

"In 2000 and 2010 I didn't fill out the census," the Felt rancher said during a recent town hall meeting. "I felt it was none of the government's business what I do."

That was then.

Now, since being elected to the state legislature, his thoughts are different.

"I have seen every dollar that the federal government doles out (and) the census count is in that formula somehow. It's important,” he said.

Federal programs use the census to direct funding to state and local areas for roads, schools, health clinics, emergency services and more. Governments at every level will use census information in their planning.

On the private side, businesses will look at data to decide where to invest, creating jobs and growing an area's economy.

Everyone is affected in some way by the census.

Representation in government is also determined by the census.

Population determines how the 435 seats in the House of Representatives are fashioned. Each census some states gain seats, which means more representation and a stronger voice, while other states lose seats.

Oklahoma, with a population estimated at nearing four million, is expected to stay at five House seats.

Census numbers are also used for state representative and senate districts. For rural areas, this is especially important as rural districts seem to become fewer and fewer over time.

Those are some of the major reasons to participate in the census.

This year, you will be able to respond in several ways this year - either on the Internet, by phone or by paper. Among the questions will be the number of people living in the home, whether it is owned or rented, sex, age and race of each person in the household and the relationship of people living in the household to each other.

April 1 is Census Day and by then households will receive their invitation to participate. In May, census takers will follow up on those that have not responded with in-person visits. The counts are delivered to the President in December.

By March 31, 2021 states should have received their redistricting counts.

It's not a super complicated process and this year, technology should make it even easier.

Standing up and being counted, so to speak, will benefit your community in numerous ways.

Even if you're not a fan of government and many are not, you need to participate in the census.

Because numbers matter.

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