2020 census draws questions

By PAT BROWN,

What is the 2020 census about and why does it matter?

That question already has many folks scratching their heads, but we hope to answer some of your questions and encourage you to respond when it is time. 

According to the U. S. Census Bureau, the following are some of the most frequent questions about the census process. 

First of all, what is a census and why does it matter?  Every ten years since 1790 the federal government has conducted a population count of everyone in the United States. 

Information collected is the basis for distributing $675 billion in federal funds annually to communities across the country.  These funds impact items like housing, education, transportation, employment, healthcare and public policy.  The size of population centers also influences congressional and state legislative districts. 

Why should I give this information?  If the information the government has about your household is not correct,  it will impact the future of your community.  Accurate information is the basis for funding public services like schools, hospitals, and fire departments.  It allows for the development of new housing opportunities.  It also determines representation with the House of Representatives, which is tied directly to population levels. 

When will the census take place?  It will start in mid-March of 2020 and for the first time you can respond on-line.  If you have not responded by May, a personal contact will be made so go ahead and complete the requested information.  If you don’t have access to a computer you can still complete the forms by hand.   The Census Bureau says the on-line version can be completed in only a few minutes. 

Rest assured, the Census Bureau will not be asking for Social Security numbers, bank or credit card information, money or donations or political affiliation. 

Is the information that is submitted private?  It is and can not be provided to other agencies.  Intentional disclosure of information can lead to fines of up to $250,000 and five years imprisonment.  The information is for statistical purposes only.  The Census Bureau also states that they have a “robust” cybersecurity program to ensure no data breaches. 

Communities will establish what is called a Complete Count Committee to assist in the counting process.  Information about the Census will start distribution in March, and on April 1, 2020, households who have not completed it will be encouraged to do so. 

For additional information about the Census you may log on to 2020census.gov.