Dukes County ranks dead last in the state — by far — for responses to the 2020 census, according to a real-time response tracker on the U.S. Census Bureau website.

Through the first week of April, 47.5 per cent of Massachusetts households had responded to the census by mail, telephone or internet. In Dukes County, the response rate was 7.8 per cent.

Response rates in other counties ranged from a high of 54.2 per cent in densely-populated Middlesex to 31.9 per cent in Barnstable and 15.2 per cent on Nantucket.

It’s not that Islanders are disregarding the census, which takes place every 10 years and determines federal funding and representation for localities based on residents’ responses. They may simply be unaware it’s happening, because the census bureau sends its forms to street addresses and many Dukes County residents live where home delivery is unavailable. “You’re not going to get it in your mail, if you get mail at a post office box,” said county census outreach coordinator Jean Cabonce. “That’s why it’s wonderful now that we can do it online.”

Hired by the Dukes County Complete Count Committee, a non-governmental group of elected officials and other community leaders, Ms. Cabonce’s job is to bring up the county’s response rate. Just 2.1 per cent of Dukes County households had responded when she started last month, she said.

“We’re encouraging people to do it online or by phone,” Ms. Cabonce said. “If you do it online, it takes about 10 minutes. If you do it by phone, there’s a little bit of a wait time.”

Online, the census form is available in more than a dozen languages including Portuguese. The phone line is staffed by census workers who speak different languages as well.

Census responses are anonymous and confidential, Ms. Cabonce said.

“You no longer need to have a census I.D.,” she said. “There is an option to fill it out online without that.” The online form also permits respondents to correct their mailing addresses, she said.

Census data is used to distribute billions of dollars in federal funds, grants and support. For fiscal year 2015, Massachusetts received $22 billion based on the 2010 census data, Ms. Cabonce said. The money goes to hospitals, fire departments, school lunch programs, Head Start and other services.

Representation in Congress is also determined by census data, she said.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, Ms. Cabonce said, her outreach strategy would have included town libraries and other gathering places where she could encourage Islanders to fill out the online census form. With almost everyone online now, she’s taking the message to social media and looking for partnerships with local organizations to reach as many Islanders as she can so that they can be counted.

“We only do this every 10 years,” she said. “It’s a historical marker.”

The link to fill out the 2020 Census online is here. It is available in 13 languages, including Portuguese. Note: the 12-digit Census ID is not needed to complete the questionnaire. There is an option on the on the first page of the questionnaire online to complete without the Census ID number. The Census Bureau mailed out informational material back in March with the Census ID. Only households that receive USPS mail delivery to their street address would have received them.

The Census can also be completed by phone; the number is 844-330-2020. Currently there is a little longer wait time due to limited staff.