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Why you should fill out the Census already

Recently, there’s been a lot of misinformation and buzz going on about the 2020 Census. The census is so important, especially for our social, cultural and political status as a country. But, before I get into reasons why you should fill out the census, here are some facts that tend to go overlooked and unsaid about the census:

  • There are no questions about United States citizenship on the 2020 census. Yes, there are two questions regarding race but, despite being redundant, they do not target immigrants.
  • Those who are undocumented shouldn’t fear filling out the census. All of the information you give them is completely classified. By that, I mean your name, birth date, and phone number are protected by law and cannot be released to any outside source or authorities.
  • The census is 100% mandatory. It’s required by federal law that you respond accurately and to the best of your ability, counting every person living in your home. If you fail to complete the form, census workers will ask in-person for your information, beginning on  May 13 in college towns and May 28, as well as fines up to $5,000. Now, as threatening as that sounds, enforcements of fines are highly unlikely and there are several ways to tell real census workers apart from scam artists.

That being said, here are some reasons you should complete the 2020 census:

  1. Statisticians, Sociologists, and Demographers

Each one of these careers relies heavily on the statistics provided from the census. Population projection, demographic trends and age structures are all critical data points that rely solely on surveys and census information. Without it, they would not be able to form any conclusions regarding our present social, cultural and societal status.

2. Historians

Much like those stated above, historians use census data to create an accurate representation of current and past population growth in the United States. They also use the data to compare population density as well as to retrace past generation’s movements

3. Congressional Representation

It’s critical for our national, state and local governments to have an accurate number of citizens. Politicians are better able to meet the needs of their immediate population as well as accurately request federal funding. The number of seats in the House of Representatives is also determined based upon numbers given by the census.

4. Personal Ancestry

Similar to historians, keeping a personal log of generational movement amongst families preserves treasured history that would be lost otherwise. Without previous census data, I wouldn’t know nearly as much about my family’s history since no written logs were left behind or any family heirlooms that could be traced back to my past. With that data, I can trace my father’s lineage back to World War II living in Poland and immigrating to the United States. That information, as well as current information given to the census, will be passed on through the generations to give even my great-great-great-great grandchildren a glimpse into their family history.

Despite the cultural stigmas and false information spread surrounding the census, the main purpose is not to fine and harass people for their personal information. The census is meant to give this and future generations an accurate representation of our population as we know it. You can fill out the 2020 census online through till Aug. 14.

Catty Tomaszewski can be reached via email at

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