Census Day this year is April 1. By then, every home in the U.S. should have received an invitation to provide census data online, by phone or by mail.

Census data, which is collected every ten years, is an extremely important foundation for countless studies in the U.S., and the more complete and accurate our census information can be, the more accurately we can measure everything from education and income levels to the best place to build new supermarkets.

For West Virginia, the 2020 census will likely bring huge change: the loss of a seat in the United States House of Representatives.

West Virginia’s population declined by 12,000 residents over the last year, which brings the state’s total population down to about 1.78 million. The state’s population peaked in the middle of the last century with approximately two-million residents.

We have been steadily losing population for decades, and it is expected that when congressional seats are reapportioned based on census data, it will have one fewer representatives, and likely fewer votes in the electoral college.

What this will mean, frankly, is that West Virginia will have even less consideration in Washington than it already has.

We will have fewer representatives to take care of constituent needs, such as Social Security and veterans’ affairs, complaints about any federal agency, and other miscellaneous issues. With the loss of a House seat, our representatives’ offices will have to work that much harder to address the issues of their constituents.

Every West Virginian must respond to the 2020 Census as accurately as they can. It may not prevent the loss of representation in Washington, but we can still let the country know just how many of us there are among the hills.

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