Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE — When it comes to the once-a-decade census, New Mexico has long struggled with low turnout rates.
But the state had the most accurate count in the country for the 2020 census, according to a state-by-state survey recently released by the US Census Bureau that found Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi had the lowest undercounts. higher in percentage.
Senior state officials said this week that New Mexico’s successful count would ensure the state receives all of the federal funding to which it is entitled.
“New Mexico was at very high risk of overall undercount,” said Robert Rhatigan, official state demographer and head of the geospatial and demographic studies program at the University of New Mexico. “This new data from the Census Bureau is further confirmation that this has not happened. Our collective efforts have had a positive impact on our state.
With federal funding on the line, New Mexico spent $10.9 million in the lead up to the 2020 census on a statewide media campaign and other census readiness efforts. This included a state-level census commission created by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham that worked with immigrant rights groups and tribal representatives to increase voter turnout.
State officials have previously said an undercount of just 1% could have meant the loss of $780 million over the next decade.
“The pandemic has necessitated significant changes in how we reach and encourage New Mexico residents to respond to the census,” said Secretary of Finance and Administration Debbie Romero.
The 2020 census finally revealed that New Mexico had a population of 2.075 million, an increase of 2.8% from the previous decade. This rate of population growth was lower than the rates of most states neighboring New Mexico, including Texas, Colorado, and Arizona.
The once-a-decade census count was also used late last year in the redrawing, or redrawing of New Mexico’s political borders, to reflect changing demographics.
In 2010, New Mexico had the second-lowest voter turnout in the nation because the state’s rural nature, large immigrant population, and infrastructure issues — including bumpy roads and phone connections limited – have long made it difficult to get an accurate count.
New Mexico currently receives about $8 billion a year in federal dollars from 16 programs, including money for Medicaid, food stamps, early childhood education and road repairs.
That puts New Mexico third on the list of states most reliant on federal funding as a percentage of total state revenue, according to a recent Tax Foundation study that did not include relief funding. in the event of a pandemic received by the States.