On April 1, 2020, the United States will conduct its constitutionally mandated decennial (10 year) census to determine the current population of the United States. Why is this important? The census count will be used to determine – among other things – how seats within the U.S. House of Representatives are divided among states and how federal funds are dispersed to each state.
While it is unlikely that North Dakota will regain a second seat in the House as a result of the 2020 Census, the estimated gain in population of more than 80,000 individuals since Census 2010 will likely lead to a shift in voting districts in the state after 2020. An accurate count is needed to make sure voting districts are truly representative of any population shifts.
Who else gains from participating in the census? Everyone does! If you drive on public roads, have children attending school or anything that uses public services or infrastructure, you have a stake in the outcome of this census. Every person needs to be counted if they reside in the state. That includes citizens and non-citizens; those here legally or not.
Unfortunately, those who tend to have the most to gain by being counted also tend to be the most difficult to count. As some people do not understand the impact of the data on their daily lives and their community, they are less likely to willingly participate. Minority populations, those in poverty, recent migrants, very rural populations and some people who just do not like the government tend to be the most difficult to count and are generally felt to be less likely to respond to the census and various Census Bureau surveys such as the American Community Survey (ACS).
Your privacy matters and responding to 2020 Census is safe. Census data is protected by Title 13 and violators are subject to fines and imprisonment. Individual data is not released to anyone or any state or federal agency. Additional disclosure avoidance strategies are being implemented this decade to protect census data from being mixed or processed with other data to re-identify confidential records.