The 2020 Census is upon us.
This spring, the U.S. Census Bureau will begin its effort to count every resident of the United States, this time relying heavily on the Internet to gather responses, rather than the traditional mailer.
It is a large undertaking. In fact, the Census is the largest peacetime operation conducted by the US Government. That is why all hands are on deck, including national, state, and local government and nonprofit efforts.
Census data is everywhere; it is how a business decides where to locate, how a school pays for lunches, how an old road gets repaved. Congressional districts and state legislative seats are all drawn using Census data.
A complete and accurate count ensures that funding and political representation is distributed as it should be.
Every individual has the responsibility to ensure they are counted, but each individual also has the power to ensure their family and community is counted and represented.
Below is a list of 10 recommendations for how activists can support the 2020 Census effort.
1. Educate yourself on the process
Though the Census seems simple enough, the details can be confusing for some. The best thing you can do is ensure you have the answers to those tricky questions for you and for your family. US Census Bureau: Frequently Asked Questions
2. Mark your calendars for Census Day, April 1, 2020!
On April 1st, check in with your friends to make sure they have filled out their Census or have a plan to. Answer any questions they may have about the Census or who in their house gets counted (see #1!).
3. Discuss the Census with your local community groups
When you’re attending or participating in community meetings, make sure the Census is mentioned. Whether it is a school board meeting or a neighborhood association meeting, the data gathered in the 2020 Census will impact their funding for the next decade, highlighting the importance of a complete count to their everyday work.
4. Use your social network
Using your own personal social media accounts to share the Census message and ensure they are aware it is coming up helps to instill trust in the process among those who may be wary of the government.
US Census Bureau: Outreach Materials
5. Participate in a Local Complete Count Meeting
Most counties and cities will establish local complete count committees (CCC) that include a cross-section of government, nonprofit, education, business, and other community stakeholders. These CCCs plan efforts to do local Census outreach and ensure their communities are counted.
By attending a meeting or contacting the coordinator, you can learn about local efforts, ensure your community has a plan, and learn how you can plug into efforts.
US Census Bureau: 2020 Census Complete Count Committees
6. Help identify your hard-to-count communities
Those embedded within a community are those best suited to identify those who will face particular barriers to completing the Census. These communities can often be those who have faced historical disenfranchisement by the government, do not speak English as a first language, or do not have reliable Internet access.
Working with your local government and local Census Bureau representatives to locate and plan outreach for these communities is extremely helpful. Additionally, if you are aware of any hidden housing units or those homes that may serve as shelter or group-living homes.
7. Volunteer with a local organization to conduct outreach
Many local nonprofits, including libraries and schools, will be conducting their own Census campaigns and events to ensure the communities they represent are counted. Contact your local school, library or nonprofit to see they have planned for the Census and how you can help and support their work.
8. Urge local officials to hold a town hall on Census Day
Encourage your local representatives, mayors, state legislators, or Congressional members, to hold town halls on Census Day at a location that has ample access to computers and the Internet. Here, constituents can ask questions, complete the Census and learn how the Census impacts them.
If your local officials are unable to hold a town hall on April 1st, ask them to hold a town hall sometime in the spring to encourage constituents to complete the Census and answer any questions they may have.
9. Add Census messaging to your email signature
Adding a simple reminder about the 2020 Census to your email signature can help remind people of the upcoming count and may encourage others to follow your lead. Sample: Make your voice heard when you participate in the 2020 Census. Your community is relying on you. Visit 2020Census.gov to learn more.
10. Take a part-time job with the US Census Bureau
The Census Bureau is continually hiring Census canvassers in every locality. The most trusted Census employees will be those that look like the community and are their neighbors. If you have additional time in your schedule, apply to be a canvasser for the US Census Bureau so that people who care about the community are the ones ensuring it gets counted! Apply at 2020Census.gov/jobs
To learn more about Census efforts in Ohio, visit ohiocensus.org.