It’s 2020 Census time! We know a lot of serious things are competing for your attention right now, yet we’ve still got a once-in-a-decade chance to protect and strengthen our communities for the long haul. Everything we care about — from public health to employment to education to political representation and more — will be impacted by the results of the census. And even though filling it out will be a pretty quick and simple process for most of us, life is busy and it’s easy to lose track of non-routine tasks like this if we’re not careful. That’s why we’re urging everyone in our communities to make a plan to get counted on the census ASAP. Read on, then share with your networks to help ensure that everyone who matters to you counts on the census.
We have long been encouraging folks to complete the census online or by phone as early as possible this spring, but that plan just got even more important now that we’re collectively dealing with COVID-19 (coronavirus). The deadline to get counted has been extended until October 31, 2020, but sooner is much better than later when it comes to getting out the count this year. Self-responding early helps lessen the need for census takers to knock on people’s doors to complete the count, and it also gives the Bureau — and organizers like us! — more time to work through any issues that might pop up as the count goes on.
Invitations to respond to the census online and by phone are in the mail right now, and will start hitting mailboxes on March 12. Depending on where you live, you may get either a letter with a unique ID inviting you to go online or by phone, or you may get that letter plus a paper census form. (Don’t worry if you prefer paper but live in an “online first” area; everyone who doesn’t respond by a certain time will get a paper census form as the Bureau follows up with households later in the process.) When that notice arrives, keep it somewhere safe and handy for yourself or whomever in your home is going to complete the survey. You’ll be able to do a non-ID response if necessary, but it saves time and resources needed to count harder-to-reach folks if you stick to the planned process.
There are also language guides and dedicated hotlines* for folks in your life who may need help responding in a language other than English. And Black folks, when you fill this out, please be sure to check ‘Black or African-American’ (plus other races you identify with if you’re multiracial) and include your country of origin so organizations like ours have the data we need to most effectively advocate for our communities.
Make Your Plan – Choose Who, How, & When
Whether you’ve gotten your notice yet or not, you likely have the info you need to make a plan right now to get counted. It’s as simple as deciding who, how, and when to get it done. If you’ll need help to fill it out or will be helping someone else, be sure to keep that in mind as you plan, too.
- Who: Everyone in your home counts, but just one person in your household needs to be the one who actually fills out the census. Figure out if that’s going to be you or another family member/roommate/parent or guardian, and remind yourself or them to do it.
- How: Choose if you want to fill it out online, by phone, or on paper.
- When: If whoever fills out the census in your home doesn’t have time to complete it when the notice first arrives, pick another time to do it, mark it on the calendar, and set a reminder to get it done then.
If you want to help get out the count, one way you can help is to share this post on social media to encourage other folks in your network to make a plan. In addition to helping your community get your fair share of funding and representation, organizers and advocates like us need this data to drive the next decade of our organizing — a decade we already know will be full of critical challenges and opportunities to build a better society. As always, we at Color Of Change and our partners in this movement will be watching and ready to take action if there are problems with the count or any threats to our communities. We are here for you, ready to help you learn more, fight misinformation, protect yourself from scams, or anything else. You matter so much to us, which is why we want to make sure you count.
Note: this post has been updated as of May 4, 2020 to reflect new information about the timing of the count.
*The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, in partnership with the Arab American Institute, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, and NALEO Educational Fund, have launched hotlines in over ten languages to serve as a crucial resource for people who have questions or concerns regarding the upcoming 2020 Census. If you have any questions about the Census or have problems getting counted, call them! You can also email 888COUNT20@lawyerscommittee.org.
English: 888-COUNT20 or 888-268-6820
Arabic/English: 833-3DDOUNI or 833-333-6864
Mandarin/Cantonese/Korean/Vietnamese/Tagalog/Urdu/Hindi/Bengali/Bangla/English 844-2020-API or 844-202-0274
Spanish/English: 877-EL-CENSO or 877-352-3676