By Chad Kinsella
During this difficult time, many people are looking for ways to help. Perhaps one of these easiest ways to impact our community right now is to complete the 2020 census. A few minutes of your time will ensure that our community receives proper funding from the federal government, that we are represented properly at every level of government, and that research on our community is accurate for the next decade.
Every 10 years, as mandated by the U.S. Constitution (Article 1, Section 2), the U.S. Census Bureau literally counts everyone who lives in the United States and its territories. This year, census day was April 1. It is a snapshot in time. Not only are you required to respond, but responding is in your and your community’s best interest.
The census is 10 questions and should take just a few minutes to complete. All information is confidential and protected by federal law. Answers can be used only to produce statistics. Identifiable information cannot be shared with other agencies, even law enforcement.
It has never been easier to respond, whether online at my2020census.gov, over the phone at 844-330-2020, or by mail – all without having to meet a census taker.
The census is important for many reasons. First, an accurate census count is crucial to ensure that you are represented in local, state, and federal government. The count determines each state’s number of seats in the House of Representatives and votes in the Electoral College. Exactly where people live in the state influences congressional districts, state legislative districts, and even city council districts.
Second, an accurate census count ensures that our community receives its share of $860 billion distributed by the federal government for a host of programs, including Medicaid, Medicare, highway funding, Pell Grants, school lunches and other food assistance, and aid to low-income families. Your response to the census helps to ensure that your community receives the public services it needs.
Finally, researchers in government and universities use census data for all kinds of critical social research to better understand and assist certain populations across the country.
The current census will influence funding and policy decisions until 2030. How can you help?
Make sure that you and every person in your household is counted. This includes babies, children, and the elderly. The online form is available at my2020census.gov. Or you can call to complete the census over the phone.
Encourage family, friends, and neighbors to complete the census. Share with them that not only is it required by law, it does a lot to help their communities.
Share about the importance of the census on social media. Search #2020census for images and posts or share your own reasons for completing the census.
Do you know a college student who lives off campus? Make sure they know that they should complete the census for where they live during the academic year. Students who live in residence halls are counted in a different way and do not need to complete an individual census form.
Chad Kinsella is an assistant professor of political science at Ball State University.