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Published on: News

Eleven Things to Know About the 2020 Census

published on: April 1, 2020

In March I hosted a Facebook Live Census Chat, covering the what, why, and hows of the 2020 Census. The Census and the legalities and policies surrounding it are dense. Have questions? Drop a comment below!

  1. Complete it Online:
  2. Complete it by Mail 
  3. Citizenship Question Will NOT Be On the Census
    You may remember some news last year when the Trump Administration attempted to add a question about citizenship status on the Census form. That question has not been included on the Census in at least 50 years and the reason it was removed back then was because it could lead to people NOT completing the form – even if they are legal residents. The point of the Census is to get an accurate count of everyone living in the United States. Fortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the Trump Administration and that question is NOT on your form. So, please, make sure that if and when you are talking to your friends and neighbors about the Census that you make it clear that by no means will there be any kind of citizenship question on the form. Have more questions? You can call the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights at Law 888-COUNT-20 and NALEO 877-EL-CENSO
  4. Federal Law Protects Your Information
    The U.S. Census Bureau is bound by Title 13 of the United States Code. This law not only provides authority for the work we do, but also provides strong protection for the information we collect from individuals and businesses. As a result, the Census Bureau has one of the strongest confidentiality guarantees in the federal government. It is against the law for any Census Bureau employee to disclose or publish any census or survey information that identifies an individual or business. This is true even for inter-agency communication. The FBI and other government entities do not have the legal right to access this information. In fact, when these protections have been challenged, Title 13’s confidentiality guarantee has been upheld.
  5. Census Impacts Apportionment
    State population counts from the decennial census are used to reapportion seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. No state has permanent claim to their current number of assigned House seats. State population counts determine how the 435 seats are split across the 50 states based on each state’s share of the national total. As a result of population changes between 2000 and 2010, eight states gained seats in the House of Representatives. After the 2020 Census, southern and western states are expected to gain seats—and political clout—at the expense of states in the Northeast and Midwest. The Census Bureau will publish apportionment population counts by December 31, 2020, affecting the size of state delegations for the 2022 U.S. House elections and state votes in the U.S. Electoral College for the 2024 presidential election.
  6. Census Impacts Redistricting
    State and local officials use decennial census results to help redraw congressional, state, and local district boundaries to contain roughly equal numbers of people to ensure each person’s voting power is closely equivalent (meeting the one-person, one-vote rule). The Census Bureau will publish redistricting data no later than March 31, 2021—within one year of Census Day.
  7. Census Informs Allocations To States and Localities
    Census totals help determine the amount of funding that state governments and local communities receive from the federal government for the next decade. Census Bureau data were used to distribute more than $675 billion in federal funds to states and local communities for health, education, housing, and infrastructure programs during Fiscal Year 2015. Accurate census counts ensure that funding is equitably distributed for numerous programs such as Medicaid, highway planning and construction, special education grants to states, the National School Lunch Program, and Head Start.
  8. Census Aids Planning
    Data from the census inform a wide range of government, business, and nonprofit decision-making. Governments and nonprofit organizations rely on decennial census data to determine the need for new roads, hospitals, schools, and other public sector investments. Census data are also vital to businesses as a key source of information about the U.S. population’s changing needs.
  9. Census Informs Emergency Response
    Detailed population information is critical for emergency response in the wake of disasters. First responders and disaster recovery personnel use census data to help identify where and how much help is needed. Similarly, demographic details from the census assist epidemiologists and public health personnel in everything from tracking disease outbreaks, to combating the opioid epidemic, to improving child health.
  10. A Base for Federal Surveys
    Decennial census data provides a population base for dozens of federal surveys. The Census Bureau’s Population Estimates Program uses census data in combination with birth, death, and migration data to produce annual population and housing unit estimates. These estimates are then used as population controls for the American Community Survey, Current Population Survey, and many other federal surveys—so that the numbers of housing units and people in certain categories agree with the Census Bureau’s official estimates.
  11. You Can Make An Impact
    Talk to your friends, family, coworkers, neighbors. Here’s an idea for those of you that live in condos, apartments or have a Homeowners Association: print out a flyer (with printed on it!) and stick it on the corkboard next to the mailboxes (you know the one with the take-out menus from 1988 pinned to it). I grew up in South Florida, I know all about living in condos and apartments. Use the corkboard, that’s what it’s there for! To ensure everyone gets counted, we need tight-knit communities to hold each other accountable. Get all your neighbors involved. Tell them to look for their census mail in their mailbox and to open the letter and then go to their computer or on their phone and go to Each letter has an ID that links you to your address, but you don’t need the letter to fill this out. If for whatever reason you did not get a letter or you accidentally threw it out, you can still fill it out on the website. Just follow the easy instructions on the screen. 

Completing your Census is easy. I have 3 people in my household and it took me under 7 minutes to read and fill out the whole thing start to finish. FCV will be posting about the Census – follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to help share the word. 

Everybody counts, and that starts with you. Complete your 2020 Census and make sure your community is aware, engaged, and counted. A lot of the information I wrote here was adapted from this excellent page from Population Reference Bureau.