The past few weeks have been difficult for all of us as we face the threat of the coronavirus and the disruption to our lives. With everything that is going on, it may be easy to overlook a piece of mail you should have received by now from the United States government regarding the 2020 Census.
It’s important to respond, as the information that is collected is used for a number of purposes. For example, the population of a state determines the amount of federal funds received for various health, education, and social programs. The population also determines the number of Members of Congress for each state, which in turn determines the number of votes a state has in the Electoral College. The confidentiality of data is protected by federal law.
This year, you can respond online. I completed my form this week and it took less than ten minutes. The process is simple and it starts by logging on to www.my2020census.gov.
When you log on to the website, click “Start Questionnaire” to begin. Enter the 12 digit Census ID code from your letter. If you did not receive a letter or misplaced it, no problem—just click “If you do not have a Census ID, click here.”
You verify your address and that you will be living at that address on April 1, and then enter your name and phone number.
Next, enter the number of people living in your household, their names, and if you own or rent your home.
You then answer questions about each person in the household, including sex, birth date, race, and relationship to the person filing out the form. The Census does not ask about citizenship status.
After you have entered information about each person, you note if any of the people you have listed routinely stay elsewhere. This is to ensure no one is double-counted.
Finally, click “Submit.” You’re done.
If you do not want to respond online, you’ll receive a questionnaire by mail in a few weeks. You can respond by phone as well. And if you do not respond, a representative from the Census Bureau will visit your home and ask you the questions in person.
This spring, stand up and be counted. Be sure to respond to the Census, and encourage your friends and neighbors to respond, too.
Thanks for your time, and please stay safe.
Michael Ruger serves as Deputy Mayor of Hopewell Township. He is writing as an individual.