2020 Census 101

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It’s census time! Every 10 years, the government has to tally up the demographics of its citizens. The information gathered from every household is the bedrock of countless decisions in the public and private sectors for the next decade. How federal resources are allocated in neighborhoods, where congressional district lines are drawn, how many congressional representatives each state gets, and a million other decisions are all based on the data gathered from the census. Responses are required by law. After all, it’s in everyone’s best interests that the population count reflects your household.

Last month, the U.S. Census Bureau mailed census forms containing unique Census ID numbers to every household. Yours should have arrived mid-March. For the first time in census history, this year households have the option of completing the form online at my2020census.gov. The questions are all basic demographic information.

Completing the census is free; the U.S. Census Bureau will never ask for money, Social Security numbers, bank account or credit card numbers or political donations. If you encounter something asking for these kinds of information and claiming to be the census, please report it to the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office. Your information is kept confidential by the bureau; any breaches of your confidential information by its staff are penalized with up to a $250,000 fine and five years imprisonment. Your information can only be used to report statistics.

Completing your household’s census only takes a few minutes — “less time than it takes to drink your morning coffee,” the bureau’s website says. Households that have not completed the census online, by phone or by mail will start receiving personal home visits from census takers in the coming weeks.

If you need help completing your census, or need to request a paper questionnaire instead of using the online form, please call toll-free 1-844-330-2020.

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