The U.S. Constitution mandates that a census of the population be conducted once every 10 years (Article 1, Section 2). Census data are used to reapportion Congressional representation among the states and to determine how billions in federal funds are distributed to states and local communities every year for services and infrastructure, including health care, jobs, schools, roads and businesses. It's also used for drawing political boundaries for local, state and federal elections.
“It’s the largest peacetime mobilization in our country, and it’s a cornerstone of our democracy."
- U.S. Census Bureau Director Dr. Steven Dillingham
What if I am homeless?
In 2020, the Census Bureau will devote three days to counting people who are experiencing homelessness across the country, with checks in place to ensure that people aren’t counted more than once. These days follow months of outreach and coordination with local census offices, partners, shelter directors, service providers, and others:
March 30, 2020: Counting people who are in shelters.
March 31, 2020: Counting people at soup kitchens and mobile food vans.
April 1, 2020: Counting people in non-sheltered, outdoor locations, such as tent encampments and on the streets.
What if I am a college student?
If you live in dorms, you will be counted by the dorm in what is called group quarters.
If you are a college student and live off-campus, the house will receive one mailer to be completed by the entire household.
What will the government do with my information?
It counts our population and households in order to (1) provide the basis for reapportioning congressional seats, state and local redistricting, and (2) distributing more than $675 billion in federal funds annually to support states (in Idaho this means $2.4B in funds to our state), counties and communities’ vital programs — impacting housing, education, transportation, employment, health care and public policy.
How will I know my information is secure?
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 in any way. By law, all responses to U.S. Census Bureau household and business surveys are kept completely confidential.
Why does the government want to count little old me?
Mandated by the U.S. Constitution since 1790 the Census counts our population and households. The Census (1) provides the basis for reapportioning congressional seats, state and local redistricting, and (2) distributing more than $675 billion in federal funds annually to support states (in Idaho this means $2.4B in funds to our state), counties and communities’ vital programs — impacting housing, education, transportation, employment, health care and public policy.
Do I have to answer all the questions?
What happens if I don’t complete the Census survey?A Census Taker may come back to your household to get that info.
Can I just fill out a paper form?
Yes, you can fill out the paper questionnaire, you can also complete it online, and by phone.
What if I am undocumented?
Your information is safe and confidential
Why does the Census count non-citizens?
Because the U.S. Constitution created by the Founding Fathers of the United States of America stated that all people living in the United States must be counted.
United States Census of 1790 was the first census of the whole United States. It recorded the population of the United States as mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution and applicable laws.
Can the librarian fill out the form for me?
No, the 2020 Census Questionnaire is to be filled by the individual.
Can a child fill out the survey for a non-English speaking or disabled parent?
No, an adult must fill out the form. For the 2020 Census, the U.S. Census Bureau plans to provide the Internet Self-Response Instrument and Census Questionnaire Assistance in 12 non-English languages; enumerator instrument, bilingual paper questionnaire, bilingual mailing, and field enumeration materials in Spanish; and language guides, language glossaries, and language identification card in 59 non-English languages. The form will be delivered to households via mail, or an enumerator.
Do children complete their own surveys?
No, adults fill it out for them. Don’t forget the babies, they are often missed and undercounted.