2020 Census Made Simple

This PSA explains what the 2020 Census is, how its data is used and secured, how it affects representation, and how to take it.
2020 Census
by Magic CR

What is the census?

The census is a count of every person who lives in the United States and its territories. It happens every 10 years. In early 2020, you will be asked to count everyone who lives in your home as of April 1. Responding to the 2020 Census is a chance to shape your future.

What’s in it for me?

  • Your responses inform where over $675 billion is distributed each year to communities nationwide for clinics, schools, roads, and more.
  • Census data gives community leaders vital information to make decisions about building community centers, opening businesses, and planning for the future.
  • Responding also fulfills your civic duty because it’s mandated by the U.S. Constitution. The United States has counted its population every 10 years since 1790.
  • Your responses are used to redraw legislative districts and determine the number of seats your state has in the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • Is my information safe?

    Your responses to the 2020 Census are safe, secure, and protected by federal law. Your answers can only be used to produce statistics. They cannot be used against you by any government agency or court in any way—not by the FBI, not by the CIA, not by the DHS, and not by ICE.

    What will I be asked?

    You will be asked a few simple questions, like age, sex, and the number of people who live in your home, including children.

    What won’t be asked?

    The census will never ask for Social Security numbers, bank or credit card numbers, money or donations, or anything related to political parties.

    When can I respond to the census?

    In early 2020, every household in America will receive a notice to complete the census online, by phone, or by mail. In May, the U.S. Census Bureau will begin following up in person with households that have yet to respond.

    Shaping Your Future

    The results of the 2020 Census will help determine how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding flow into communities every year for the next decade. That funding shapes many different aspects of every community, no matter the size, no matter the location.

    Think of your morning commute: Census results influence highway planning and construction, as well as grants for buses, subways, and other public transit systems.

    Or think of your local schools: Census results help determine how money is allocated for the Head Start program and for grants that support teachers and special education.

    The list goes on, including programs to support rural areas, to restore wildlife, to prevent child abuse, to prepare for wildfires, and to provide housing assistance for older adults.

    Helping Communities

    Did you know that census data helps communities respond to natural disasters and secure funding for hospitals and fire departments?

    Your Invitation To Respond

    The time is now. Help shape your future, and your community's future, by responding to the 2020 Census.

    Homes will begin receiving their invitation to respond to the 2020 Census between March 12-20. These official Census Bureau mailings will include detailed information and a Census ID for completing the Census online.

    During this time frame, some homes will receive a paper questionnaire (sometimes known as the census form). Please complete your form online, by phone, or by mail when your invitation to respond arrives. Visit my2020census.gov to begin.

    How To Respond

    The 2020 Census will ask a few simple questions about you and everyone who is or will be living with you on April 1, 2020.

    For the first time, you can choose to complete the census online, by phone, or by mail.

    Please note that if you are responding online, you must complete the census in one sitting, as you don't have the ability to save your progress.

    If you do not receive an invitation to respond from the Census Bureau, you may respond online or visit our Contact Us page to call our phone line.

    Who Should Respond?

    The 2020 Census counts everyone living in the United States and its five territories (Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands).

    One person should respond for each home. That person must be at least 15 years old. They should live in the home or place of residence themselves and know general information about each person living there. (For more information, visit Questions Asked.)

    Please note: If you live in American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, or the U.S. Virgin Islands, the process for completing the census will be 100% paper-based and led by Census takers. Visit Counting the Island Areas for more information.

    For the first time, you can choose to complete the census online, by phone, or by mail.

    Who Should Be Counted and Where?

    You should be counted where you are living and sleeping most of the time as of April 1, 2020. If you are responding for your home, count everyone who lives and sleeps there most of the time as of April 1, 2020. This includes young children, foster children, roommates, and any family members or friends who are living with you, even temporarily.

    People in some living situations—including students, service members, and people in health care facilities—may have questions about how to respond or where they should count themselves. You may also have questions if you are moving, have multiple residences, or have no permanent address.

    Language Support

    You can complete the census online or by phone in 13 different languages: English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Russian, Arabic, Tagalog, Polish, French, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, and Japanese.

    In addition, bilingual invitations and paper questionnaires in English and Spanish will be sent to select areas of the country.

    To help you respond, the Census Bureau also offers webpages and guides in 59 non-English languages, including American Sign Language, as well as guides in Braille and large print.

    Get Off The Bench. Get Into the Game. VOTE.

    Prepare now to vote in the general election this November.

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