Old computers that are in storage will get a new purpose soon when they’re installed in county buildings to allow residents to fill out the census.

Denton County commissioners voted Tuesday to bring the computers back into action after Shannon Joski, director of administration, briefed commissioners on census education efforts. The move would increase access for people to be able to complete the census online.

“For those that might have a hard time getting access to a computer, this would be a way that they could do it,” Joski said. “I think it would make a lot of sense, especially buildings that have [Texas Department of Public Safety] offices with long lines and people are waiting.”

Census forms will start arriving at Denton County doorsteps March 12, and the official census count begins April 1. The count of all residents across the country will determine federal funding levels as well as seats in the U.S. House of Representatives for the next 10 years.

“We have to live by those numbers,” Joski said. “The very conservative estimate is it’s $1,200 per person — more accurately probably $1,500 and I’ve seen as high as over $2,000 — per person, per year. Just 1% undercounted in Denton County would mean about $10 million a year for our county that we could potentially forfeit from the federal government.”

Until then, community outreach is key, Joski said. She’s working to talk with major school districts in the county, and went and talked to the Lewisville school board Monday night with Commissioner Bobbie Mitchell.

Mitchell echoed Joski’s message that everyone needs to inform people about the census to make sure they respond for their households.

“Down in Lewisville last night, not a lot of people knew what was going on, and we need to make sure everybody knows,” she said. “Communicate, communicate, communicate.”

Also at the meeting, commissioners also approved a measure to pay Duryea Moving & Storage to transport election equipment to and from polling locations for early voting and primary election day March 3.

JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @jennafduncan.

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