Atlanta, GA– Wednesday, April 1st is National Census Day, the day where all people living in the United States are counted once, and in the correct spot. Mandated by the United States Constitution since the first census in 1790, the decennial census reapportions Congress by state population, directs redistricting efforts from state house and senate, to county commission and school board, allocates roughly $1.5 trillion dollars annually through more than 300 federal programs to neighborhoods and communities across the nation, and informs businesses about opportunities for economic opportunity and overall viability.
The 2020 Census has seen its fair share of challenges even prior to those caused by COVID-19. For the first time, the majority of people living in America have been invited to participate online and many won’t be mailed a paper census until later in the spring. A proposed citizenship question caught the census up in the courts, until it was firmly rejected by the United States Supreme Court. To be clear, there is no question about citizenship on the 2020 Census. Delays and a lack of funding in DC slowed the Bureau’s hiring and shuttered the more than 39,000 Questionnaire Assistance Centers.
These challenges have only been compounded by the complicating factors of COVID-19. Over the past few weeks, community events and mobilization efforts have collapsed while the Census Bureau itself has postponed field operations and hand delivery until at least April 15th. Additionally, hiring and enumeration efforts in special populations are on hold.
“Achieving a fair and accurate count has never been more important,” said Fair Count CEO Rebecca DeHart. “Every community deserves their fair share of resources and political power. That fair share will be even more crucial as we recover from the effects of the pandemic.”
The majority of people living in the United States received their invitation to complete the 2020 Census Census between March 12 and March 20. All people living in America can complete the census one of three ways: online at my2020census.gov, by phone at 1-844-330-2020, and returning the form by mail. Since the pandemic has halted some necessary census functions, the Bureau has extended the Nonresponse Followup period until August 14, 2020.
As of March 31, 2020, around 36% of people living in America had responded to the census, leaving much work to be done to close the gap.
“COVID-19 is at the front of everyone’s mind right now,” said Fair Count Vice President Dr. Jeanine Abrams McLean. “And while we let the experts do their job in keeping us safe, it is still paramount that the census happens. As we continue to live in uncertainty about our economy and our public health system, census data will inform our responses and direct the correct allocation of resources as we recover. The census is going to happen–it’s required by the U.S. Constitution–so we must have an accurate count.”
Founded by Stacey Abrams in 2019, Fair Count is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to partnering with hard-to-count communities to achieve a fair and accurate count of all people in Georgia and the nation in the 2020 Census and to strengthening the pathways to greater civic participation.
The 2020 Census will allocate more than $1.5 trillion dollars every year to communities through hundreds of federal programs, direct reapportionment and redistricting, and guide economic development opportunities. If inaccurately represented, Georgia will lose roughly $3,600 for every person who goes uncounted.
The 2020 Census can be completed today by visiting my2020Census.gov or by calling 1-844-330-2020.