The 2020 Census is about to begin. In fact, starting in January, the census will begin counting people in remote parts of Alaska.
The census is a short questionnaire that asks about who you are and where you live. It’s the way to count every person, including people with disabilities, living in the United States. In Illinois, 1 in 5 people have a disability and they deserve to be counted. Below we answer a few questions and try to explain what to expect from the census and why it is vital to ensure a complete count.
Does it matter if I get counted?
Yes! It absolutely matters if you get counted because:
- The state of Illinois loses $1,800 per year for each person who doesn’t get counted in the 2020 census! That’s a lot of money over 10 years. It puts at risk a lot of programs that the disability community relies on, such as accessible sidewalks, energy and food subsidies, healthcare services and other important programs.
- The number of legislative representatives (members of the House of Representatives) that each state is allowed is determined on the census results.
- Congressional and state legislative districts can get redrawn by state officials if there is a population shift.
- Like voting, it is your civic duty to participate in our democracy and say “I count!”
How does the Census Bureau count everyone?
Between March 12 – March 20, the Census Bureau will send an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census to almost every household in the country. Each household should receive this invitation by Census Day, April 1, 2020. This invitation will be delivered by the US Postal Service or by a census worker. You will have the option to respond online, by mail or by phone.
What do you mean by Census Day?
This is the day the census takes a “snapshot” of everyone who is living in the US. They want to know where you are living as of April 1, 2020.
If you don’t respond to the census after your first invitation, the Census Bureau will send you a reminder letter. This will come between March 16 and March 24.They will continue to try to contact you via mail through April 27.
If you still don’t respond, they will start knocking on your door in May. They will try to reach you in person at least 6 times to make sure they count you and anyone living in your home.
Do Community Integrated Living Arrangements (CILAs) count as households?
Yes, but the Census Bureau refers to CILAs as Group Quarters. Group Quarters is defined as a place where people who are not related live or stay in a group living arrangement that is owned or managed by an organization providing services for the folks who live there. Some other examples of a group quarters are nursing homes, college residence halls and prisons.
Between February and June, the Census Bureau will conduct its Group Quarters Operation and count everyone who lives in a group living arrangement.
What kind of questions will I be asked?
The Census will ask simple questions such as:
- How many people are living in your home on April 1, 2020?
- Do you rent or own your home?
- How many males/females live in the home?
- How old is each person in the home?
- What race is each person in the home?
- Is anyone in the home Hispanic, Spanish or Latino?
- Are people in the home related?
The census will never ask for or about your social security number, bank information, political party or donations!
Is it safe to complete the census online?
Yes, the Census Bureau is constantly updating its cyber security to prevent and detect cyber threats. All of the information submitted online gets encrypted and then removed from the internet as soon as it gets to the Census Bureau.
What about my privacy?
By law, all responses to the Census Bureau are kept completely confidential. Any information collected can only be used for statistical purposes. It can’t be shared with any other governmental agency or used against you for any reason.
Is it safe to talk to a census worker?
Yes, it is safe to talk to a census worker. If a census worker knocks on your door, they will have a census badge and briefcase identifying them with the Census Bureau. They will introduce themselves as a Census Bureau employee and show you their government ID. You can also ask to see another picture ID if you’d like.
Help the Census Bureau do a complete count and stand up and be counted!