In anticipation of the 2020 Census and subsequent Reapportionment that is the foundation for Congressional and Legislative Redistricting, the League of Women Voters has encouraged Leagues throughout the county to be involved and educate citizens about these important topics. The Washington State League took steps to do so by establishing a grant program to facilitate local League educational events. Thurston County League was privileged to have received one of these Forum in a Box Grants. Those funds were instrumental in enabling the public meeting that is described below.mp
On January 15, 2020 Thurston League members and members of the public gathered at the Olympia Center for a three-hour Census and Redistricting Forum. The aim of this forum was to help people learn what they need to know about these two vital, but infrequent, aspects of our democracy. The presenters focused on how the census works, how the census affects all of us, and what citizens can do to help, as well as the nuts and bolts of redistricting, and why it all matters. The program began with a very informative presentation by Lisa McLean, the Census Coordinator for the State Office of Financial Management. She offered a lively, very informative presentation that laid out the importance of the Census, as well as some of the problems and pitfalls that must be faced to get a complete and accurate count of everyone on April 1, 2020.
Following Lisa's talk, we were told about local efforts to address some of those problems and pitfalls. Sherry Sullivan, a volunteer with the Centro Integral Educativo Latino de Olympia (CIELO), and Lisa Crowley, the Census Area Manager for the South Puget Sound chapter of the Asian Pacific-Islander Coalition, both described activities that their organizations are doing to reach people who might be reluctant to participate in the Census.
An appeal for people to sign up to be census takers was then made by Karen Burke who works for the US Census Bureau. Click there to see a video of the 2020 Census program that was taped by Thurston Community Media (TCM).
The focus of the forum then shifted to Redistricting. Alison McCaffree and Dean Foster worked together to provide an entertaining look at this rather complex topic. While they both mainly spoke from the perspective of the Washington State Redistricting Commission, they also shared information about examples of less successful approaches to Redistricting.