CASA GRANDE — On Friday afternoon Pinal County officials stood outside Walmart to encourage residents to complete the federal census.

District 3 County Supervisor Steve Miller began his morning at the Stanfield Post Office and then made his way to the Walmart on Florence Boulevard in Casa Grande. The event was part of the Census Countdown Drive, which began in Superior and Kearny on Sept. 18.

“We are trying to reach out to as many individuals that may have not done their census form yet,” Miller said. “The federal government looks at the numbers when they come back and divvy up the dollars and cents for a lot of grant funds.”

According to Miller, Arizona is on the cusp of getting another congressional district, which would mean another representative in Washington.

“If the numbers show that we have enough people for another representative, that’s a good thing,” he said.

The aim of the drive is ensuring that as many people as possible in Pinal County complete the 2020 census. At each location, Pinal County/Census face coverings were handed out, and staff was ready to help people complete the census. Voter vans were also there so that those interested could register to vote.

Maria Vianey Cardenas is the partnership specialist for southern Arizona with the U.S. Census Bureau. “We could do better. COVID-19 had impact, all the entities, all local areas, so it’s very important that people take the responsibility and do the census now,” Cardenas said.

According to the city of Casa Grande, 38% of residents have yet to respond to the census, which could leave the community without $640 million over the next 10 years. However, these numbers only include those who have self-responded.

“It takes five to ten minutes and it will make the impact for the community,” Cardenas said. “We cannot share the information with any other agency, including (immigration authorities) or any other law enforcement agency, so the census is safe.”

The deadline to respond to the census was Sept. 30, but a federal judge on Thursday ordered that the 2020 census can continue through Oct. 31.

“The 2020 year, everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. The COVID pandemic has put challenges to everybody so it’s another 30 days that we get to count,” Miller said.

Despite the extension by the federal judge, area officials still encouraged residents to fill out the census as soon as possible.

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Gabrielle Olivera is the Casa Grande reporter at PinalCentral, covering government, schools, business and more.

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