Frequently Asked Questions
For more FAQs, please visit the U.S. Census Bureau
- What is the Census? The Constitution requires that the U.S. government must direct a count of everyone living in the country every 10 years. It is used at the federal, state and local level to determine political representation, funding for things like schools, healthcare, and housing.
- Will my information be kept confidential? Yes. Under the law, Census data can only be used for statistical purposes. Title 13 of the U.S. Code requires respondent’s information to be kept confidential, and guarantees personal information will not be used against respondents in court or by a government agency. Personal census information cannot be disclosed for 72 years (including names, addresses, and telephone numbers). Census Bureau staff who have access to personal information are sworn for life to protect confidentiality, and are subject to a $250,000 fine and/or up to five years in federal prison for wrongful disclosure of information.
- When and how do I complete my 2020 Census Form?It is very easy. In March 2020, every household will receive a mailing from the U.S. Census Bureau with instructions to visit their website. Upon logging onto the Bureau’s website, each household will fill out a simple 10-question form. • Every person, including children, residing in the household needs to be included on the form in order to be counted. • The information that will need to be provided includes: name, relationship to head of household, gender, age, birthday, Hispanic origin and race, and status as a home owner or renter. • The form can be completed in about 10 minutes. If a household does not respond, the Census Bureau will mail two reminders and a paper census form in the fourth mailing. • Other options for completing the form via telephone or mail will be available. Individuals can call 888-839-8632 for more information. • If a household does not submit a completed census form, then the Census Bureau will send an enumerator to that address to collect the information in person. Completing a census form early is the best way to avoid having an enumerator visit your home.
- What happens if a person does not respond to the 2020 Census or leaves a question blank? The U.S. Census Bureau will conduct Non-Response Follow Up to households that do not self-respond to the Census. This means an enumerator may call or visit households that do not complete their census questionnaire. The best way to avoid the Census Bureau contacting you is to self-respond. If one, or more, questions on the census questionnaire is left blank, the U.S. Census Bureau says this increases the likelihood it will attempt to collect the missing information through some direct contact. More information is needed from the Bureau before definitive guidance can be provided to the community on this.
- What happens if I skip a question? The Census Bureau, the agency in charge of ensuring that everyone participates in the Census, has not given official guidance yet. They have verbally confirmed that all census forms will be counted, even if the forms are missing answers.
- Will I be in danger if I do fill out the Census? There are extremely strong protections for Census data. The Census Bureau, the Commerce Department (which houses the Census Bureau), and their employees may not reveal a person’s data that they have gathered through the Census to anyone. That means they can’t share it with federal agencies, immigration authorities, law enforcement, or courts of law.
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