Thirty individuals have been appointed to the newly created Arkansas Compete Count Committee, tasked with promoting participation in the 2020 Census. Gov. Asa Hutchinson has tapped the volunteers from multiple branches of government – state, city and county – in addition to private sector and citizen representatives.
Hutchinson issued Executive Order 19-12 today (Aug. 28), creating the committee. Members of the committee will advise Hutchinson on how to ensure that Arkansas is accurately counted during the 2020 census, particularly in “hard –to-count communities.” The committee is also charged with working with city and county governments to set up local complete-county committees.
The 2020 U.S. Census process has already begun as the U.S. Census Bureau opened 39 area census offices between January and March 2019, with another 209 area offices to open between June and September 2019. While the Census Bureau begins counting the population in remote Alaska in January 2020, the census kicks off on April 1 – Census Day. On this day, households receive invitations to participate in the census. By December 2020, the bureau delivers the results to the U.S. President.
Since 1790, the government has conducted the census, which is mandated by Article 1, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution (later amended by the 14th Amendment). The census is used to determine the distribution of Congressional seats in the U.S. House of Representatives to states, define legislative districts, distribute federal funds and more.
“Every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau surveys the United States to determine the nation’s population,” Hutchinson said. “April 1, 2020, is Census Day. In Arkansas, we’ve been preparing for years, and an accurate count of Arkansas’s population is critical. The most obvious reason is that the federal government allocates funding back to the states based upon population counts. An undercount of even 1 percent could cost Arkansas $990 million over the next decade.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent estimates (as of July 1, 2018), Arkansas has a population of approximately 3,013,825, an increase of 3.4 percent over the previous census. In the 2010 census, the state reported a population of 2,915,918.
In the executive order, Hutchinson directs the committee to meet only a month and to submit three reports to him. The first report, a census progress report, is due by November 1, 2019; a census day report is due by April 1, 2020; and a final census report is due by December 31, 2020.
The initial report will detail the committee’s outreach efforts, while the census day report will document the committee’s and the local complete-count committee’s awareness efforts in the build-up to Census Day. The final report will catalogue all of the committees’ – from the governor-appointed committee to local committees – efforts after Census Day.
The committee is set to be composed of a committee chair, a Governor’s Office liaison, an Attorney General’s Office liaison, a Secretary of State’s Office liaison, a state representative and a state senator belonging to Arkansas’ majority party (Republican), , a state representative and a state senator belonging to Arkansas’ minority party (Democratic), the Secretary of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, the director of the Arkansas Geographic Information Systems Office, the director of the Arkansas Fair Housing Commission, the director of the Arkansas Educational Television Network, the state librarian, a chancellor from an Arkansas higher education institution, five county officials from five different Arkansas counties, five majors from different Arkansas municipalities, an Arkansas Economic Development Institute representative, a business community representative, and four at-large citizen representatives.
The committee will receive support from the Arkansas Census State Data Center during its operations.
The full list of members is below:
- George McGill – Chair–Mayor, Fort Smith
- Shelby Johnson – Vice Chair– Director, Arkansas Geographic Information Systems Office
- Andrés Rhodes– Associate Legal Counsel, Office of Governor
- Cory Cox– Chief of Staff, Office of Attorney General
- Dwight Southerland– Chief of Staff, Office of Secretary of State
- Representative Justin Gonzales– House District 19
- Representative Milton Nicks Jr.– House District 50
- Senator Jane English– Senate District 34
- Senator Greg Leding– Senate District 4
- Colonel (Ret.) Nate Todd– Secretary, Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs
- Leon Jones– Director, Arkansas Fair Housing Commission
- Courtney Pledger– Director, Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN)
- Carolyn Ashcraft – State Librarian
- Dr. Laurence Alexander– Chancellor, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB)
- Shawndra Taggart– County Clerk, Jefferson County
- Josephine Griffin– Circuit Clerk, Chicot County
- Terri Hollingsworth– County Clerk, Pulaski County
- Becky Lewallen– County Clerk, Washington County
- Mickey Pendergrass – County Judge, Baxter County
- Harry Brown– Mayor, Stephens
- Charles Snapp– Mayor, Walnut Ridge
- Joe Dan Yee– Mayor, Lake Village
- Jeff Brown– Mayor, De Queen
- James Sanders– Mayor, Blytheville
- Pamela Willrodt– Demographer, Arkansas Economic Development Institute (AEDI)/Arkansas Census Data Center
- John R. Tyson– Tyson Foods
- Miriam Ramirez– Attorney, Ramirez Law Firm
- Herbert Morales– Arkansas Minority Business Advisory Council
- Robert Tellez– Attorney, Tellez Law Firm
- Melisa Laelan– Founder, Arkansas Coalition of Marshallese/Court-certified Interpreter for Marshallese