Every person matters in 2020 U.S. Census
When philosophers, psychoanalysts and poets refer to individuals mattering it is usually in connection with esoteric discussions on an individual’s inherent worth as a human being.
The folks at the U.S. Census Bureau take a much more pragmatic approach. To them, you matter as a means to an end.
Every 10 years since 1790, the U.S. Census Bureau has fulfilled the mandate established in Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution to count every person in the country.
The primary reason for this is to divvy up the representation in Congress between the states. This can result in significant shifts in power as states gain or lose population compared to other parts of the country. The population data collected in the Census is also used in apportioning districts for city council, county board, and for the state legislature in setting senate and assembly district boundaries.
The Census data is also used to determine how money is spent on domestic programs. Nationally, the census results will determine the distribution of $675 billion of federal funds across all program areas. For Wisconsin, each resident counted in the census generates about $1,584 in federal program funding for critical services for state residents.
In 2010, Wisconsin was on the bubble to potentially lose a Congressional seat and state residents stepped up to the plate to make sure that didn’t happen. Wisconsin led the country with about 85% of residents responding to the census and with the help of those numbers was able to ensure the state did not lose a voice in Washington, D.C.
The stakes are just as high in 2020 as Wisconsin is poised to exceed 6 million residents for the first time. Wisconsin could still lose seats and could still lose vital federal funding, especially for traditionally undercounted groups such as senior citizens, children and recent immigrants.
Over the next few weeks, each household will receive mail inviting people to go online before April 1 and answer nine questions to make sure they and their families are counted. The online system is new this year and is hoped to greatly increase the speed the data is tabulated while also saving significant amounts of federal tax money.
Those who choose not to go online to fill out the census data can still respond by phone toll-free or by mail. Those that haven’t responded by mid-April will receive follow-up letters and a paper questionnaire along with the potential for in-person follow-ups to those that have not turned in forms.
Census data collected on an individual is protected by federal law and cannot be released for any reason to any government or outside agency or used against an individual in court.
When it comes to the U.S. Census, you matter.
You matter as the person who helped make sure funding for vital programs for children, the disabled and the elderly don’t go away. You matter to help ensure rural Wisconsin continues to have a voice in national policy.
You matter to make sure every person is counted.