What is the census?
The Constitution declares that everyone counts – and mandates that a population count happens every 10 years. The 2020 Census will count all people who live in the United States on April 1, 2020. The census is a short questionnaire that asks basic information about your household and the people who live in it. Your personal responses are confidential and cannot be shared with other government agencies, including immigration enforcement, police, or housing authorities. The government uses the population count to divide up political representation and to determine where to spend resources.
How do I participate in the census?
In March 2020, the Census Bureau will mail information to households inviting them to respond to the census. There are three ways to participate:
When do I respond to the census?
The Census Bureau will mail information multiple times, encouraging people to respond:
Notice - March 12 - 20: The Census Bureau will send households invitations to respond in three separate waves of mailings.
Reminder - March 16 - 24: Reminder letters will be sent to households that have not responded.
Reminder - March 26 - April 3: Reminder postcards will be sent to households that have not responded.
Reminder - April 8 - 16: Reminder letters and paper forms will be sent to households that have not responded.
Reminder - April 20 - 27: Final reminder postcards will be sent out.
In-Person Visit - May 13: Census Bureau employees will start to visit households that have not responded.
What will the 2020 census ask me?
The 2020 Census should take just minutes to complete and asks the 10 questions below.
Three questions regarding your household:
1. The number of people living or staying at your address on April 1. Include everyone in your home, even if they are not related to you. The census counts all people in the U.S., including small children, non-citizens, renters – everyone.
2. Do you own or rent your home? Answer whether you own or rent your home.
3. Telephone number. The Census Bureau will only use your phone number if needed for official Census Bureau business.
Seven questions regarding each person who lives in your household:
1-4. Name, age, date of birth, and sex. Enter the name, age, and date of birth of each person. Please note that for sex, the Census Bureau only provides Male and Female as options.
5. Relationship to the person filling out the form. There is a list of relationships that you can choose from, including spouse (same or opposite sex), brother or sister, parent, roommate, or other.
6. Race. You can choose one or more races. If you identify as multiracial, you can check the box or boxes for your racial groups and write in additional detail about your racial background. Not all racial groups are listed as check box options. If your racial group is not listed, you can write in additional detail about your racial background.
7. Hispanic origin. This asks whether you are Hispanic or Latino. This is considered an ethnicity, not a race. Mark this in addition to the race box.
What won't the 2020 Census ask me?
The form will not ask you about your immigration or citizenship status. The form will also not ask for your social security number.
Do I have to answer all the questions?
Federal law requires everyone to participate in the census and to answer all the questions. Respondents who provide their name and address, but skip a question or two, will still be counted. If you skip several questions or do not answer the census at all, a census employee might come to your home to obtain the missing information. Answer all questions truthfully; do not lie when responding to the census.
Are my responses confidential?
Can responding to the 2020 Census harm me?
Confidentiality: All census information is confidential. By law, the Census Bureau cannot share an individual’s information with anyone, including immigration authorities, other government agencies, and the public. Federal law has very strong confidentiality protections for census data and protects your information.
Penalties: Every Census Bureau employee with access to your data is sworn for life to protect your information. If a Census Bureau employee violates this law, it is a federal crime; penalties are severe, including a federal prison sentence of up to five years, a fine of up to $250,000, or both.
Data Protections: Additionally, responses collected by the Census Bureau can only be used for statistical purposes. The Census Bureau publishes only aggregated statistics and may not publish information that would identify an individual, business, or organization. Federal, state, and local government agencies are prohibited from using statistical datasets produced by the Census Bureau to the detriment of any individual who responded to a census.
What if I need language assistance to complete the 2020 Census?
Online: The internet self-response form is available in 12 non-English languages including Chinese (Simplified), Japanese, Korean, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.
Phone: Phone support is offered in English and 12 non-English languages including Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese), Japanese, Korean, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. Through a dedicated toll-free Census Bureau phone number for each language, callers can get more information on the census, ask questions, and provide answers to their census form by phone.
Paper: The paper form is available in English and Spanish. Language Assistance Resources: Census Bureau is producing language glossaries, language identification cards, and language guides in 59 non-English languages which will be housed at www.2020census.gov.
And, finally - Why does it matter?
It matters! Census counts are used in distributing more than $1.8 billion in federal funds per year in North Dakota. This translates to $1,900 per person, per year. Those dollars impact funding for things like maintaining local roads, bridges, public transportation, health care assistance, prevention and treatment of substance abuse, emergency food and shelter programs, health and human service programs, Head Start, and education – to name a few.
Every ten years we are asked to do one of the easiest, safest, and most important things we can do for our communities: fill out our census form. Yes, it doesn’t sound exciting or glamorous but without census data our families, friends, and neighbors risk losing out on the federal money they deserve. An accurate count determines how millions of dollars gets distributed annually for health clinics, after-school activities, emergency services, and even businesses use it to decide where to locate. All you have to do is spend less than 10 minutes to determine what happens in North Dakota for the next ten years. Help our future generations by answering a few simple questions that really do matter.
Everyone living in your household on April 1 needs to be counted as part of the 2020 Census. The census bureau will protect your data and ensure it remains private.