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Census 2020: Why your participation is important

Posted at 5:26 PM, Dec 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-30 14:17:44-05

Beginning in March, the U.S. Census Bureau will invite households from across the country to participate in the 2020 Census.

The United States Constitution requires the government to conduct a population count every ten years, so beginning in early 2020, you'll be seeing and hearing a lot more about the census.

Dr. Steven Dillingham with the Census Bureau explains, "The census is one of the few national activities that the American public does together. It's the largest peacetime mobilization in our country and the cornerstone of our democracy."

The questions in this year's census include age, sex, race, and how many people are living in your home, along with other demographic information. The questionnaire was to include a question about citizenship but in a series of court battles the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately blocked the question from being printed on next year's census form.

The data gathered provides vital information that determines how the government distributes more than $675 billion to states and communities, and, most importantly, how many representatives each state gets in Congress and where district lines are drawn.

"Our founding fathers recognized that, in order to provide equal representation from every single person in the House of Representatives, they had to know how many people lived here and where they lived," said Dr. Dillingham.

From 1790 to 1970, census takers went door to door to collect information from every single person in the country. In 1970, the Census Bureau started mailing out the questionnaires and allowing the responses to be mailed back. This year, there are even more options for responding.

"For the first time, the public will have three ways for responding: online, over the phone - and it can be a smart phone or a not so smart phone, or through a paper questionnaire that each household will receive if they haven't answered by the internet or over the phone," added Dr. Dillingham.

If you haven't responded by Census Day on April 1, expect a knock on your door from a census taker in the weeks after.