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2020 Census: Time to Be Counted!

Note: We recognize that much of our collective attention is on COVID-19 issues. ASNC continues to advocate for people with autism and families across our government and monitor information across all related COVID-19 issues. ASNC is participating on various NC DHHS, emergency preparedness, health and disability services-focused workgroups, continually collecting information, providing feedback, and advocating for individuals and families. Information on COVID-19 is on our website.

ASNC is now podcasting about public policy and advocacy issues. If you’d like to listen to our update on the 2020 census, it is available via Soundcloud.

 

What is the census?

The census is a count of the country’s population, citizen and non-citizen, that takes place every 10 years. We have an estimated 330 million people to count in this census. The census is done by “household” and collects information about the people who are living in a residence.

For every person not counted, that community loses about $20,000 in federal funding over 10 years.

NC has set a goal to have 82% of North Carolinians fill out a census count.

Because the federal tax dollars help to fund programs for people with disabilities, and it’s important for everyone to be seen, counted, and represented, we want to make sure that people on the spectrum or their families/caregivers take the time to fill out the census for the household.

 

Is it secure?  How is my information used?

The information is very secure.

  • Census technology uses multiple layers of security.
  • Information you share with the census and census workers cannot be used against you by other government agencies such as ICE, Homeland Security, FBI, police, courts, landlords, etc.
  • Census workers take an oath and can NEVER share your information with others. They collect it solely for purposes of the census.
  • The information itself is secure for 72 years. Personal identifying information is not released to the national archives for that length of time. Right now, we are just seeing the release of census archives from 1940s, which are typically used by people researching genealogy.
  • The Census does NOT ask you for Social Security numbers, political party, pin codes, financial account information, or your passwords. If you see this kind of activity or questions connected to the census, someone is trying to scam you. You can ask questions about whether someone represents the US Census or report suspected scams by speaking with a US Census representative at 844-330-2020.

 

Why is it important to be counted?

The census is used to determine political representation in Congress, specifically the House. Because the House seats are capped, seats are redistributed among states based on population, so that states with growing populations have seats in Congress that reflect their population size. This representation impacts voting districts and the number of Electoral College votes a state has (increased political influence).

NC has the potential to gain a seat in Congress if we are all counted – we missed by only a few thousand people during the last census count.

 

Distribution of federal tax dollars is also determined in part by population. States depend on the distribution of tax dollars collected by the federal government for things such as schools, hospitals, roads, public works projects (think sewers!), economic development, and hundreds of other programs including Vocational Rehabilitation. Local governments use census data for planning, revitalization projects, job development, and more. The funds go from the state to regions and to your home community!

The census website provides more info on the importance of the data and how it’s used.

 

This is the first time the census is online – is that the only way to fill it out?

There are several ways to take the census. In an effort to use less paper and encourage participation, the census is now online for completion by phone, computer, or tablet at www.2020census.gov. You will receive a mailing with detailed information and a census ID for completing your information online.

If you do not fill it out online, you have the option to call a toll-free number to provide information. Households that don’t respond online or by phone will receive a paper form by mail to fill out and mail back. Those that don’t respond any of these ways will get a visit from a census worker. [As of this writing, the US Census still plans for in-person census-taking, which typically takes place over the summer.]

There is language support (translation) for the census in 13 languages online and by phone, English and Spanish mailing (in certain areas), plus support for ASL, braille, large print and census guides in 59 non-English languages. More information is available at www.2020census.gov.

 

There is a long and short version of the survey – which one am I supposed to fill out?

If you get both the short and long version of the survey, fill them both out! Both versions have valuable information. If you are filling out information online, your census ID will direct you to the right questions for your household.

 

The US Census encourages you not to wait when you get your mailed invitation: Fill it out online, or by phone, as soon as you can!

 

Questions about this or other public policy issues? Please contact Jennifer Mahan, Director of Public Policy, at jmahan@autismsociety-nc.org.

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