The first time I had heard of the Census I was ten years old. I knew you had to answer some questions and people with big tote bags with the words "2010 Census" kept asking "Have you done the 2010 Census yet?" Little did I know, ten years later, the roles would be reversed and I would be the one asking that very same questions hundreds of times.
This summer, due to the pandemic, the usual method of going door to door and asking people if they have complete the Census has been impossible. In my community, in an effort to increase participation, we have been calling community members and asking if they have completed the 2020 Census for their household. Although the process is much easier and quicker than the typical door-to-door, it always can be less effective. For example, when someone answers the door, they are less likely to ignore the person. On the phone many people hang up before one can even introduce themselves. As a caller myself, I have had many people hang up on me.
Moreover, over the phone, you can't gaurantee that the people actually follow through and complete the census. We offer to assist those who made need it over the phone, but many people would rather say they will do it in their own time. Understandably, people may forget or just choose to ignore it. Much of this is due to the fact that many people do not realize how influential the Census is for the country.
The Census is redone every ten years and helps calculate the current population. It helps determine the number of representatives for each state and congressional and state legislative districts. Most of the data collected is also used by lawmakers, community leaders, and helps direct funding to different services. For instance, Census data helps direct funding for public schools, fire departments, and local infrastructure. More importantly, this data is used by legislators for the next decade when deciding where to allocate funds for crucial federal services such as MedicAID and SNAP among many others. Therefore, the less participation in a specific area, the less data there is for policymakers to determine the budget for areas that would benefit from increased funding for certain government programs.
Another concern by many people, is that the government is using the data to spy and gain information on community members.This is a concern shared by many, especially immigrants and marginalized groups. However, the only information asked is how many people live in a specific household, the race and sex of each person in the household, age and date of birth, and how each person is related to the one filling out the form. These questions allow for data regarding age and race demographics.
Lastly, completing the Census is much faster now that it can be done online instead of only through the mail. In fifteen minutes or less, you can help direct funding for your community. Do your part and fill out the Census at my2020census.gov.