The 2020 Census:
Nonpartisan Data & Civic
Engagement for Democracy
Funders and nonprofits can play a critical role in ensuring a fair and accurate count of immigrant and low-income communities in the 2020 Census.
Changes made to the 2020 Census, due to budget cuts by Congress, will directly affect representation in Congress and electoral college votes, compliance with federal civil rights laws, and the annual federal distribution of $700 billion to states, cities, and vital human services programs for a decade from 2020 to 2030.Contact Us
The New York Times covered how the City of San Jose used our tools to address undercounting for the 2020 Census.
Download report: "7 Things to Do to Reduce the
Likelihood of Undercount in Census 2020"
The GAO has rated the 2020 Census as "high-risk." The Census could result in a large undercount of low-income, underserved, and minority households. This is likely due to several reasons:
- Address Canvassing: The budget for address canvassing is reduced.
- Online Survey: Instead of traditional mail-in surveys, the 2020 Census will rely on an online survey. 1
- Fewer Census Enumerators: Instead of Census takers making multiple efforts to visit unresponsive households, the 2020 Census will reduce Census taker visits by half.
- Quality Enumerators: The labor market, if it is as good as it is currently, will make it harder for the government to recruit enough quality Census takers within their budget. 2
- Limited budget for advertising, partnerships, and language assistance.
- Hostile political climate: Immigrants and minorities are fearful of providing data, such as race and address, in this political climate to the federal government.
Impact of the Census Count on Democracy
- As directed by the Constitution, the 435 seats in the House of Representatives are apportioned among the states on the basis of the Census count.
- The Census count determines the electoral college with the number of electors each state receives for presidential elections.
- States and localities redraw legislative boundaries that comply with standards for population equity ("one person, one vote") and racial and ethnic balance (Voting Rights Act, Sections 2 and 5).
Civil Rights Enforcement
Impact on Civil Rights Enforcement
- Census data provide key benchmarks for federal monitoring and enforcement of civil rights and antidiscrimination laws in voting, employment, housing, lending, and education.
Annual Distribution of Billions
Impact on Annual Distribution of Billions in Funds to Cities, States, Schools, Public Health, Veterans, and Other Issues
- Census data guide the flow of $700 billion annually in federal domestic assistance across the nation.
- Federal agencies use Census data to inform the design, implementation, and evaluation of programs and policies in every government realm, such as education, health, housing, transportation, small business development, human services, and environmental protection.
- State and local governments rely on Census data to make decisions on the annual distribution of hundreds of billions of dollars for critical services.
Trusted Nonprofits Are Needed
Reassure immigrants and minorities that it’s safe
Trusted nonprofits can reassure immigrants and minorities that their answers to the Census survey are confidential, will only be used for statistics, and never be shared with any other government departments.
Encourage community to apply to be enumerators
Help community members to get hired as enumerators. Enumerators who go door to door should match the demographics and speak the language of the community members.
Educate, motivate, & activate
Immigrants and low-income people are often not familiar with the purpose or uses of the Census. Under-reporting of low-income people, especially children, is well-documented. In addition, in the current political climate, many immigrants are fearful of the government.
Help people take the online survey
Nonprofits can help low-income people who face technology barriers to filling out the Census online. They can provide computers, help with filling out the form, and language translation.
Interested in learning how you can ensure a fair and accurate census?Contact Us
1. Although the survey has not been finalized, it will be similar to the questions in the 2010 form. (See 2010 form: https://www.census.gov/history/pdf/2010questionnaire.pdf
2. Proposed 2020: Households will receive a letter, and a postcard with a unique identifier. Participants are expected to go online, enter their unique identifier, and complete the survey online. There are three visits by an enumerator. The enumerator will help people fill out the survey.
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