The Census does not just gather information for the sake of having it. And it doesn’t just add to the data coffers of the federal government. The information has an impact on your family, your school, your representation, your community and the services it can provide. And that matters whether you are a citizen, green card holder, visa holder, or undocumented.
By Laura Haight
This month, the Census Bureau announced that it would end its decennial count a full month early, stopping on September 30. With a full 40 percent of the population incomplete, stopping a month early virtually ensures – according to four former directors of the Census Bureau who testified before Congress this month – that the count will be “seriously incomplete.” That matters because the population data collected now will be used to make decisions about federal funding for the next decade.
What will be cut short are door-to-door visits by Census takers trying to track down residents who have not returned their Census or completed it online.
The Census Bureau says it needs to extra time to compile the results to meet a federal end-of-year deadline to get the data to President Trump. Some fear it is another purposeful attempt to undercount immigrants and people of color across the country.
Let’s not let them do it. You can complete the Census online even if you do not have the Census document that was delivered to your house.
Go to my2020census.gov. If you have the Census mailing, enter the 12 digit code. Don’t worry if you don’t, you can enter the address you were living at in April. You can do this from your phone, tablet, or computer. And it will take less than 10 minutes to complete.
Here are just a few of the many reasons accurate Census data is critical:
- Billions of federal dollars are distributed based on the Census information. For a real world example, Jeff Behler, director of the U.S. Census Bureau’s New York regional office, offered this example of a senior housing facility with 100 residents to Forbes: “If only 80 of those people get counted in the Census, that particular center is going to get 80 percent of the [federal] funding it deserves for the next 10 years. It doesn’t just affect those 20 people who weren’t counted. It affects all one hundred,” he explained.
- Reapportionment is the process of allocating Congressional representation to states based on population. Congress is allocated 435 seats and the census is used to determine which states have how many seats. (And also their number of Electoral College votes). Once the count is completed, some states will lose a congressional seat while others may gain one. Even before the count is completed, analysis suggests 10 states will lose at least one Congressional seat.
- That will kick off redistricting, which is the state process of deciding the boundaries of Congressional districts (and its political extension: gerrymandering). Your vote, your representation, is directly tied to an accurate census.
- Public health, education, public transportation, affordable housing, senior communities and support organizations all receive some public funding, which is determined by the Census.