Census workers will be in rural areas of Montana starting this week as they resume operations that were halted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Media Specialist Josh Manning provided details.

“Since things have opened up in terms of what states are allowing people to do, we at the Census Bureau decided to update operations, which is basically just dropping off census packets with that paper questionnaire and the invitation to respond online at rural addresses across Montana,” said Manning. “That’s the operation that’s going to begin in earnest here in the next week or so.”

Manning described what the census workers will be doing in Montana’s rural areas.

“These census workers will be fanning out across these areas and dropping something off at someone’s door, like the postal service does,” he said. “It won’t go in your mailbox, it will go on your doorstep, and there should be no interaction whatsoever. If there is, it will be from six feet or more social distancing and they’ll have a mask and gloves and they’ll sanitize everything, and so it’s going to be a very safe operation that we’ve through about doing for the past several months.”

Manning explained why a complete and accurate count of Montanans is so important. First, that the census is mandated by the U.S.  Constitution, but second, so that Montana can have another representative in Congress.

“Montana is one of the few states in the country that stands a chance of getting an extra seat,” he said. “All states could gain one, but Montana is more likely to gain another seat than other states will, so Montana needs to have an accurate count, so that when it goes to that selection process Montana can say ‘hey, look. Here’s how much we’ve grown. We’re bigger than North Dakota; we’re bigger than this congressional district they want to put in Colorado. So, we deserve this and that’s the big thing that’s at stake here.”

Manning said the Census Bureau is also working with the tribes to see about access to the nine nations in Montana.