Stand Up and Be Counted

Check your mail next month for the 2020 census

It’s that time again. Census time.

It’s your once-in-a-decade chance to help define legislative districts, school district assignment areas, the distribution of Congressional seats and seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

This year brings an added modern convenience: it’s the first time the Census Bureau is asking most people to respond online.

The vast majority will receive the census via mail. Options to respond include online (including a mobile-friendly interface), by mail or by phone. The United States Constitution mandates that a census be taken every 10 years. The first census was taken in 1790.

Completing the census is not only mandatory; it’s in your best interest to respond.

State officials redraw the boundaries of the congressional and state legislative districts in their states to account for population shifts. The results determine the distribution of more than $675 billion in federal funds, grants and support to states, counties and communities. The money is spent on schools, hospitals, roads and public works.

When filling out the census, remember: all members of your household should be counted—even newborns. If you have a child away at college, they will be counted there. You should be counted at your usual residence—which is defined as where you sleep most of the time.

Keep an eye on your mail. It should arrive March 12-20. Expect a reminder letter March 16-24. Be warned: you have until April 27 to respond until the Census Bureau starts following up in person.