What is a Complete Count Committee?
The U.S. Census Bureau encourages all cities, counties, states, and tribes to form groups whose purpose is to plan for and help promote the U.S. Census within their communities. These committees are typically chaired or led by prominent individuals—such as mayors, county commissioners, state governors, and tribal chiefs—and membership typically represents the major elements of each community.
Chief Gary Batton organized the Choctaw Nation Complete Count Committee in July 2019. Melissa Landers, the tribal government’s Senior Director of Membership, coordinates the committee’s activities. Membership is drawn from across the Choctaw Nation’s government and includes representatives from all major departments—Education, Geographic Information Systems, Marketing and Communications, Health Services, Housing, Membership, Tribal Research, and others.
What is the Committee doing?
The committee organized in July 2018 and has met weekly ever since. Its first order of business was preparing a marketing and communications strategy designed to reach every tribal member at the appropriate time. It has also worked with the state and with cities and counties across the Choctaw Nation to provide ideas and data, as well as coordinate strategies. This effort will continue through launch of the U.S. Census on April 1, 2020. Local jurisdictions and business groups across the Choctaw Nation’s 10.5 counties will continue pulling together their plans through the launch of the Census itself.
Marketing efforts will get underway in January 2020. These will include TV and radio commercials, newspaper ads, paid boosts on social media, billboards, and a direct mail campaign designed to reach every Choctaw tribal member regardless of where in the country he or she lives.
Why is our committee working so hard?
Federal officials conduct a national census once every ten years. The most recent was in 2010. That Census undercounted the number of residents across the 10.5 counties, and also failed to identify Choctaw tribal members as being members of the Choctaw Nation. In 2010 there were over 199,000 tribal members; according to the Census, there were only 24,000.
During the succeeding years the Choctaw Nation has been hampered by the misleadingly low undercount. The Choctaw Nation regularly applies for grants, which comprise a quarter of the tribe’s operating budget. The grants help it accomplish important objectives in the fields of education, health care, public safety, and many others.
Chief Batton’s goal is to increase the count of Choctaw tribal members as much as possible. The Chief also hopes to assist all of southeastern Oklahoma achieve a much more accurate count of residents, by coordinating with local governments and local planning committees so that our efforts may be support one another.
Census forms will be mailed to every household in the country on or about April 1, 2020. The U.S. Census Bureau will begin posting data on the response rates for each area soon afterward. The Choctaw Nation’s Complete Count Committee will monitor the data weekly through close of the Census on July 24, 2020. It will post the results on the Choctaw Nation’s website for easy access and use. It will use the results to fine-tune its marketing campaign on a week-by-week basis to ensure it is as effective as possible.