Every decade, the federal government is required to collect data on every living person in the United States. With the arrival of the 2020 year, the United States Census Bureau has made an effort to ensure that everyone, citizen or non-citizen, gets counted and put into the system. To do this, the bureau has campaigned on television, social media, and outdoor advertisements to ensure people understand the importance of filling out the questionnaire. However, various questions still loom surrounding the latest version of the count.
Why is it important to fill out the census?
Filling out the census allows the federal government to complete important work for the future of the country. Using census data, the federal government can do the following:
- The government can determine whether or not a district requires a redrawing of its boundaries based on the population count.
- The government can update the number of congressional seats based on the current population count of each district.
- The government can determine the federal funding given to each state or district depending on the census information collected.
Therefore, it is urgent that everyone takes part to contribute to filling out the questionnaire.
Will the census be available in different languages?
The Census Bureau has made its campaign accessible to audiences of diverse backgrounds, including the Latinx community. The commercials released by the bureau, for instance, are translated in the languages of foreign viewers in order to encourage as many people to participate.
The agency allows for multiple language options. By filling out the census online or through the phone, a person has the opportunity to answer questions based on their native language, including Spanish. The bureau also specified that it would mail a questionnaire in both English and Spanish to 20% of households who need language assistance.
Will there be a citizenship question on the 2020 Census?
While the census requires every adult, regardless of citizenship status, to fill out the questionnaire, some people express concern over the presence of a citizenship question. While past questionnaires did ask about citizenship status, the agency reassures that the 2020 version does not include a question regarding the topic. However, those unaware of there being no such question fear the possibility that the information given to the government would place undocumented individuals at risk for deportation.
The bureau, however, confirms that any of the answers put on the census “are protected by law.” Therefore, the government cannot use the collected information against a person.
How can I ensure that I received a census questionnaire?
The bureau worked to ensure that people could fill out the census in different ways. As mentioned earlier, the agency implemented options to fill it out online, through mail, or by phone.
The bureau stated its commitment to making sure everyone received a questionnaire. The bureau’s official website states that ninety-five percent of households would receive the questionnaire in the form of mail while there would be more emphasis placed on the households that do not have Internet access.
Will the coronavirus pandemic affect how I fill out the census?
Originally, the Census Bureau also planned on conducting field operations with workers who would survey people on taking the 2020 Census. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has prevented these workers from going out to collect data.
Despite already having over five million people fill out the census, the bureau does not consider its task finished. The bureau continues its work by assuring people that it would modify the way it gathered its data due to the pandemic. This means advocating for people to take the census using the other methods (Internet, mail, or phone) rather than through an interaction with a census taker.
Do college students still need to fill out the 2020 Census? What if I attend college in one state but am currently residing in another state?
Even college students need to fill out the census since individuals over the age of 18 must be included in the official count. The agency explained that students who went home from college would still be counted as part of the census and that they would be counted based on a “residence criteria” on where they live and sleep most of the time. Specifically, the bureau states that students who still attend school while being at home should be counted at school even when they live somewhere else at the moment. More information about their operations can be found here.
How else has the Census Bureau modified how it will account for everyone in the census?
Primarily, the bureau hopes to accomplish its work with as minimal contact with people as possible.
The agency even plans to potentially take the census at service provider sites (such as soup kitchens or emergency shelters) where they hope they can gather data from people between March 30 and April 1.
When is Census Day?
On April 1st, people observe Census Day and is typically the time when people fill out their questionnaires. The bureau, though, hopes to send in its collected data by July 31st. The sooner the information is sent, the better the job of the bureau will be.