W

e’ve about used up 2019, and a lot of folks are thinking about their resolutions for 2020.

Lose a little weight; spend less time staring at your phone; get in shape.

They’re all fine resolutions. But specifically for next year, here’s an idea: Be a better American.

More specifically, vote.

And fill out your Census form.

As to voting, November 2020 seems a long way off, but the primaries will be here before the “New” has worn off the New Year. Primary day is March 3, and early voting begins Feb. 13. Voters need to start boning up on candidates now, as many races feature a bewildering array of names. (The lieutenant governor’s race in North Carolina, for example, has six Democrats and nine Republicans running. The list of presidential hopefuls currently numbers nearly 40).

The Census is as old as our Republic, but is getting with the times for 2020, which will be the first year Americans will be afforded the opportunity to fill it out online.

The Herald will talking a lot more about the Census as it ramps up in 2020, but here’s the point we’d like to hammer home today: We’re leaving money on the table.

The Census is used to determine the number of U.S. House members apportioned to each state (North Carolina should pick up an extra seat after 2020) and redistricting from the federal to local level.

It’s also used to direct about $16 billion annually in federal funding in North Carolina.

That spending is directed by population as determined by the Census count. Breaking it down, it comes to $1,623 per North Carolinian. At least, the ones who are counted.

As the Census is conducted only once per decade, that’s $16,000 per person over 10 years.

But only the ones that are counted.

We feel that every person in Jackson County counts. We only wish every person in Jackson County felt that way, because estimates are that the Census response rate in Jackson County back in 2010 was only 70 percent.

That Census arrived at a population for the county of 40,271 residents, up from 33,121 in the 2000 Census, an increase of 21.6 percent.

We all need to be counted. At $1,600 per pop, every year, there’s a staggering sum of money in play.

That’s money that goes to improve the health of Jackson residents, to repair our roads, to the education of our children and to housing and human services. It’s money that we stuffed into a pipeline flowing to Washington. We need that pipeline to flow both ways, and one way to ensure that is by responding to the Census.

Make it a resolution.