What you should know about the 2020 census
Mountain Family Health Centers
The first census in the United States took place in 1790, and next year’s 2020 Census will be the 23rd in our nation’s history. The information gathered is used to draw congressional and state legislative districts, school districts and voting precincts. It also helps determine the distribution of federal dollars and planning for federal, tribal, state and local governments.
Getting an accurate count of how many people live in a country is no easy task, and the 2020 Census will be done in an innovative way compared to years past. The hope is the majority of people will answer the questionnaire online.
Starting in March 2020, households will get invitations to participate. These will come in the mail, or from a census worker, but will likely direct people to a website to complete the form. Participants will be able to respond in several ways, including by internet, phone, on paper or in person. The goal of the U.S. Census Bureau is to be less intrusive and possibly more efficient. The final day for residents to respond to the census will be July 24, 2020.
What Questions Does My Household Have to Answer?
- 1. Name
- 2. Phone number
- 3. Age
- 4. Sex
- 5. Hispanic origin
- 6. Race
- 7. Relationship to household owner
- 8. Household tenure/ownership
- 9. Number of people in the household
- 10. Additional residence locations
It’s important to note that not every individual will get a questionnaire. Each household is sent the survey, and residents are asked to fill it out based on household information.
Key Things to Know
• Participation is safe, secure, private and required by law.
• Census form information is 100% private and secure. Title 13 of the U.S. Code prohibits the Census Bureau from sharing any personal information with any other federal agency, including law enforcement, immigration enforcement, IRS and state agencies.
• There will not be a citizenship question on the 2020 Census form.
• Law enforcement officials will never come to your door asking for your questionnaire. Only Census Bureau workers, who are not law enforcement officials, will come knocking to help you complete the survey.
• The best way to ensure that a census worker doesn’t come to your door is to fill out and return the form as soon as you receive it. Census workers only go door-to-door to follow up with households that don’t complete the census form.
• Some residents will not receive a census form in the mail. They will receive a postcard with a web address and telephone number on it. Residents will be asked to complete their household census form online, via a mobile device or over the telephone. Libraries are a great place for residents who need to complete the survey but do not have access to the internet or a mobile device.
The Census Bureau wants to assure people that their information is confidential. There are federal laws and statistical safeguards in place so that when statistics are released no identifying information is shared with the public or government agencies. Many immigrants, regardless of documentation status, remain skeptical because of the recent push to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. The citizen question was blocked and will not be in next year’s survey, but the attempt to add the question fueled fear and suspicion in an already tense immigrant community. A common concern is the census will be a tool used to track people based on their documentation status. Even though the question will not be included in the census, there is another concern that damage has already been done and people will not complete the survey.
Mountain Family encourages the community to fill out questionnaires as requested. As stated above, an accurate count is important when it comes to decisions on governmental spending. This is important to organizations like Mountain Family, which does receive federal funding, as well school districts and voting precincts. Knowing how many people live in each community allows businesses, nonprofits and government agencies to understand which areas have a growing demand for services and support.
Locally there is a push by the Aspen to Parachute Complete County Committee (APCCC), which is a group of local governments and organizations working together to get as many questionnaires filled out as possible. The goal is to educate the community on why this count is important and to address any reservations people may have.
More information about the census can be found on the U.S. Census 2020 website (https://www.census.gov/en.html) and Colorado’s website about Census 2020 (https://demography.dola.colorado.gov/census_2020/). If your organization would like to be added to the Aspen to Parachute Complete Count Committee (APCCC) mailing list or would like more information about getting involved, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Danyelle Rigli is advocacy coordinator for Mountain Family Health Centers.
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