By Mike Argento
Census enumerators encountered a lot of nice people, but others would yell, swear or even threaten them.
Much of the count is done by mail or online and confirmed with existing government databases. But Census takers – called enumerators – are tasked with conducting “non-response follow-up,” going door-to-door to every household that has not responded online or by mail, according to the Census.
“Census takers serve as the last line of defense for getting an accurate count, which is critical for federal funding and fair political representation,” it states on Censusoutreach.org. “In 2020, the Census Bureau projects that Census takers may be responsible for recording up to 40 percent of the count.”
The Census Bureau estimated it hired an army of half-a-million enumerators to complete the count.
But according to three former Census workers in Pennsylvania, it’s not an easy job. On occasion, they said they faced hostility, anger and distrust from residents.
They also faced issues with their equipment, the iPhone used to record responses would sometimes freeze up, and they were sometimes sent back to the same residences multiple times to confirm information or try to pry information from recalcitrant residents. And when one of them called the Census Bureau’s emergency line for help, she says she never received a response.
“The whole system was screwed up,” Julie Reineberg said.
The Census’ public information office has not responded to a request to comment.
‘People are just distrustful of everybody these days’
For Kelly Moore, it began when she received a postcard in the mail advertising jobs with the Census, billed as “a unique opportunity” to “earn money while (serving) your community.”
It ended after what Moore described as “a bad day in Red Lion.”
She’d had doors slammed in her face and faced hostility from some residents. “There was a lot of anger and distrust,” the 38-year-old paralegal from Dallastown said. “People are just distrustful of everybody these days. They think people always have an ulterior motive.”