Local census taker describes chaotic, frustrating conditions for 2020 count

Census worker takes information from a resident./ Flickr

By Aaron Dorman | PinalCentral

Hot weather, a pandemic and distrust of government all led to a scenario in which a census undercount in Casa Grande was likely, according to an enumerator who worked for the census last year.

According to 66-year-old retired veteran Earl Marsh, census takers who went door-to-door encountered residents, many of them Hispanic, who refused to respond or divulge any information, or didn’t speak enough English to understand the request.

“I can honestly say it was the most disorganized job I’ve ever had,” Marsh said. “It was so convoluted. Everybody working was temporary. The right hand didn’t know what the left hand was doing.”

Marsh and just four others were tasked with reaching out to transient or semi-permanent residents within the entire county. That included those who had initially not responded to the census and residents who lived in RV parks or even homeless camps. Originally, Marsh said there had been 12 paid workers, but over half didn’t show up for the first day of training, leaving the five of them to do work meant for a larger crew.

Some of the neighborhoods Marsh visited included Fiesta Grande RV Resort just south of Florence Boulevard in Casa Grande and the Sierra Vista RV Park near Francisco Grande Hotel.

Within the RV communities, the census takers collected uncertain totals due to time constraints. At some of the parks, Marsh said they had to rely on the numbers given to them by a manager, because it was clear they couldn’t just count trailers. Marsh noted that at Fiesta Grande, which has about 800 parking spaces for RVs, there were only about four when he was sent to count residents there in October.

Other times, Marsh said, for various reasons they’d find out the census had already visited the neighborhood two or three times already.


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August 2021