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LAW Home > Legal Topics > Government Aid and Services > 2020 U.S. Census

Census 2020: Get Counted!



What Is the Census and Why is it Important?

April 1 is Census Day! If you live in the United States, you are required by law to participate in the Census.

Mandated by the U.S. Constitution, the Census Bureau, a nonpartisan government agency, counts the population in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five US territories. The census provides critical information that is used by lawmakers, school districts, and others. It affects federal funding and other resources. The results also determine how local legislative maps are drawn, how many members of Congress your state receives, and how many electoral college votes each state casts in the presidential elections. The more people counted, the more voices each household and community has in the democratic process.

This count happens once every ten years, which is why it’s important to make sure you are counted this year.

What Kinds of Questions Will the Census Bureau Ask?

The Census will ask questions related to the number of people currently living and sleeping in your household, including babies. Be sure not to include anyone in a nursing home, college, jail, or detention facility who will be counted separately. The Census asks questions about each person’s race, national origin, and gender.

What Kinds of Questions Can the Census Bureau Not Ask?

It is important to know that the Census Bureau will not send unsolicited emails to request your participation in the 2020 Census. During the 2020 Census, the Census Bureau will never ask you for:

  • Your Social Security number.
  • Money or donations.
  • Anything on behalf of a political party.
  • Your bank or credit card account numbers.

If someone claiming to be from the Census Bureau contacts you via email or phone and asks you for one of these things, it is a scam, and you should not cooperate.

Census Bureau workers may come door to door to encourage people to participate. If someone comes to your home, you should check to make sure that they have a valid ID badge with

  • their photograph,
  • a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and
  • an expiration date.

If you still have questions about their identity or suspect fraud, you can call 800-923-8282 to speak with a local Census Bureau representative. If it is determined that the visitor who came to your door does not work for the Census Bureau, contact your local police department.

What are Important Dates?

Here are some important dates to keep in mind over the next 18 months.

  • By April 2020, every home should receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census. You can respond for your home online, by phone, or by regular mail.
  • In May 2020, the Census Bureau visits homes that haven’t responded to the 2020 Census to make sure that everyone is counted. It’s important to be counted in the Census for voting purposes.
  • By December 2020, The Census Bureau will deliver the counts to the President and Congress
  • In March of 2021, the Census Bureau will send the redistricting counts to the states which is used to redraw legislative districts based on population changes.