SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- The 2020 Census is underway and Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin made a stop in Springfield on Thursday to make sure western Massachusetts is not, in his words, the tail of the dog.

Galvin said it is up to every resident to make sure they are counted.

The Census happens only once every ten years.

Galvin said western Massachusetts has often been under-represented. That means this part of the state could lose millions of dollars for things like education and infrastructure, as well as representation in Washington.

The 2020 federal Census is underway, meaning every person in every state in the U.S. must be counted.

The data collected determines federal funding for every community for things like fire departments, schools, roads and highways, health clinics, and even the number of representatives in congress.

Bottom line: the more people you have in a city or town, the more money or representation you get.

“The information you're being asked is basic information - the number of people in your home. It is not personal information, it is not Social Security information, it is not citizenship,” Galvin explained.

Galvin made a stop in Springfield to push the importance of filling out the census, saying too often, western Massachusetts has been under-represented.

“I am committed to making sure western Mass. is not short changed and the history here is that you have been. The fact of the matter is, whether it’s funding or anything else, western Mass. has often been the tail of the dog,” Galvin noted.

Residents can respond online, by phone, or by mail.

Door-to-door efforts are now underway as well.

“Now, we're down to the people who did not yet respond. People say ‘I don't want anyone coming to my door under these circumstances.’ There's a way to avoid that. You can do that by telephone now,” Galvin said.

He told Western Mass News that the clock is ticking. There are only ten weeks left.

“Understand how critical it is for Springfield, for their families, for their future that they respond to this census. These are the numbers for the next 10 years. We can't change them. Once they're in, they're in,” Galvin added.

In the last census, western Massachusetts lost a representative in Congress, so getting a correct count is critical.

The deadline is October 31.

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