The 2020 Census is critically important for our democracy. It not only tallies the U.S. population but in essence, determines the people’s ultimate political power.
The United States Constitution requires the Census Bureau to count the entire U.S. population every 10 years. It has done so since 1790. Anyone 18 and over is legally obligated to answer the census questions honestly, with the understanding that many laws protect every bit of that information from being released or used in any way for 72 years. By law, the Census Bureau cannot release any identifiable information about you, your home, or your business, even to law enforcement agencies.
Responding to the census is not only your civic duty; it also affects the amount of funding your community receives, how well your community can plan for the future, and your representation in government.
Data from the 2020 Census will determine how more than $675 billion in federal funds gets distributed annually to communities across the country to support vital programs- impacting housing, education, transportation, employment, health care, and public policy.
Census data is also used to redraw the boundaries of congressional and state legislative districts and accurately determine the number of congressional seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives.
As required by the Census Act, the U.S. Census Bureau submitted a list of questions to Congress on March 29, 2018. On June 29, 2019 the Supreme Court blocked the Trump administrations attempt to add a citizenship question to this year’s census. Evidence was supplied that such questions were included to give an advantage to whites and Republicans in future elections.
The 2020 Census site explained why only these questions will be asked :
- The number of people living or staying at your home on April 1, 2020; Used for the total count and to ensure everyone is counted once, only once, and in the right place according to where they live on Census Day.
- Whether the home is owned or rented; Used to produce statistics about home ownership and renters for economic indicators, housing programs and informing planning decisions.
- The sex of each person in the household; Used to produce statistics used to plan and fund government programs, enforce laws, regulations, and policies against discrimination.
- The age of each person in the household; Used to better understand the size and characteristics of different age groups. Agencies use this data to plan and fund government programs that support specific age groups, including children and older populations.
- The race of each person in the household; Used by federal agencies to monitor compliance with anti-discrimination provisions, such as those under the Voting Rights Act and Civil Rights Act.
- Whether a person in the household is of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin; Used by federal agencies to monitor compliance with anti-discrimination provisions, such as those under the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act.
- The relationship of each person in the household to each other; Used to plan and fund government programs that support families, including people raising children alone, and other households that qualify for additional assistance.
But right now the counting process and all its important consequences are being disrupted. Many fear Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric will prevent some from filling out the census, fearing their information will not be adequately protected. And when Congress failed to extend the counting through October 31,2020 because of enormous logistical issues resulting from the pandemic and limiting door-to-door interaction, the Trump administration announced the Census would end on September 30, 2020.
All this has stoked concerns that the statistics the census will collect and utilize for the next decade will be woefully incomplete.
That means specific groups of people will be unrepresented for another ten, long years.
This is not over.
You still have until September 30, 2020 to be counted.
Make sure the next ten years represent your voice, your needs, your perspective and your issues. It’s took me less than 10 minutes to fill out online. Don’t have internet access? If by mid-April people hadn’t yet responded, reminder letters and postcards were sent to homes, including a bilingual questionnaire that can be mailed in. The letter also includes directions for how to complete the survey over the phone- supported in over 13 languages.
Don’t let someone else make decisions for you.
Shape your own future. Please, be counted.