By Sharna Johnson: Freedom New Mexico
Nearly a month after Census questionnaires were mailed to residents, return rates are approaching the numbers seen 10 years ago.
As of Monday, Clovis has had a 54 percent mail-in return rate and Portales has had a 52 percent return, according to www.census2010.gov.
Officials have said in the 2000 Census, Clovis responded at 61.7 percent and Portales averaged 62 percent.
It is concern over low responses 10 years ago in Curry and Roosevelt Counties that has officials laboring to get residents to participate.
On May 3, census workers, “Will go out in the field and go to the houses that have not returned a questionnaire and enumerate them on the spot,” said Elmer Maestas, public relations spokesman for the Santa Fe Census office.
“Our idea is to enumerate everybody in New Mexico. That’s our goal and that’s our task; we want to make sure all New Mexican’s are counted.”
Locally, Maestas said grass roots organizations are working hard in Clovis to try and get people counted too.
Just Saturday the 2010 Complete Count Committee held an event in Clovis to get residents to come out and be counted.
Maestas said about 200 people attended and postal and census workers were on hand to help with questionnaires and get them mailed.
“It went over real well from what I understand,” he said.
Clovis Community Development Director Claire Burroughes said overall Census efforts seem to be paying off.
“We’re going to continue to encourage people to respond until hopefully we get a better count than we did last (census),” she said.
“I think we’re in a good response compared to those around us. I think the advertising and efforts that we’ve expended on this are paying off. (But) we would like to see it a lot higher and we’ve got a long way to go still.”
Other nearby counties including Quay and De Baca are currently showing return numbers in the 40 percent range, she said.
Burroughes said the Census is important to municipalities because an accurate count means more funding where as a low count means communities get short-changed.
Roswell, intent on getting an accurate count of what it estimates is a more than 50,000 population, has spent $20,000 trying to promote the Census to residents, she said, while Clovis, Portales and Curry County spent a combined $3,500 on efforts to increase the count.