Why It Matters that You Get Counted in the Census

get counted in the census.

With more of us than ever at home most of the time, I’ve got something you can do in the next 24 hours that is a huge help to your community. And that you can do without leaving your house, which is to fill out the form and get counted in the census.

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After all, before you can be a better person, you have to acknowledge the fact that you are, a person. And getting counted by the census is an efficient and official way to do that. It also helps you take care of your neighbors and extended community throughout your state. Because the census numbers determine how much funding your state will receive from the federal government. For things like library, medicaid, health centers, Head Start, school lunch programs, special education, and public transportation.

I think we can agree that those are pretty important things, am I right? 

Help Your State—get counted in the census

Something that’s even more timely is that the federal funds that are being distributed to states to help them respond to the coronavirus threat is dictated by the 2010 census numbers. There’s nothing we can do to change how much money your state will receive now, because it’s based on 2010 numbers. But filling in the 2020 census will help your state respond to disasters all the way through 2030. The next time a new virus hits, you don’t want your state to get funding to test 1 million people if 1 million two hundred thousand people lived in your state. Do you? 

Something else the census determines is how many elected representatives your state gets in Congress. Here in Rhode Island—the smallest state in the union—we currently have two members of congress who represent us in the house of representatives. But that second seat could go away if the census shows that our population has declined

Projections show us falling about 14,000 people short of keeping that seat. 

And we are just one of 10 states that could lose a representative. And Congress is an important avenue for a state to get laws passed and issues addressed. Having one less representative is a really big loss so it’s important to get counted in the census.

Also, not for nothing, but filling out the census is required by law! 

In fact, if there’s a mantra I wish government officials everywhere would adopt, it’s, “Stay home, and get counted.” 

I filled mine out online just this morning. It took about 7 minutes. It asked for the names of all the people living at our residence. Their sex, age, and ethnic background, and that’s it. You do need your invitation, though. Because it has your census ID on it that you have to input into the website in order to complete the census. 

If you’re like 95% of folks in the U.S., you should have already received or be receiving shortly a paper invitation in the mail that then tell you how to go online to fill it out. It also gives you a unique code that you need to fill in once you’re on the website. So you really need to have that invitation in hard. 

5% of folks—like those who use P.O. boxes—will get an invitation by someone knocking on their door, although I don’t know how the coronavirus will affect this effort. 

And 1% will have their information recorded by an in-person visitor. These are people who live somewhere very remote. Like in remote Alaska or very northern Maine. Again, coronavirus makes this an X factor. 

If you have questions about the census, the website URL is my2020census.gov

And if you haven’t gotten your invitation in the mail yet, another one will be mailed to you. If you forget to fill it out, you’ll receive multiple reminders. And ultimately someone will come knock on your door to help ensure that you and your family members or roommates are counted. 

Keep in mind that your answers are confidential and that every census employee takes an oath swearing to protect the privacy of your information. It’s not about tracking individuals. It’s about measuring the full size and make-up of the populace so that the government spends the right amount of money on the infrastructure and services society needs to function. 

If you’ve got a stack of mail that you haven’t gone through yet, flip through it tonight and look for your census invitation. You may not have received it just yet. The first round of invitations are going out through March 20th. But I bet it might be in that pile, just waiting for you. 

Give Yourself 7  Minutes and Go Fill it Out Online 

Before you get sucked in to the next round of headlines and forget all about it! And for extra bonus points, go to your favorite social media platform and let your circle know that you just filled yours out. And remind them to fill theirs out too. It can take multiple instances of reading or hearing about something before someone takes action. Let your 7 minutes help nudge someone else to get counted in the census too! Go ahead and tag me too. On Twitter, Instagram, or  Facebook. And I’ll share it, too. Helping even more people get one of those multiple nudges that gets them to take action. 

The census bureau really needs all the help they can get this year, as this is the first time they are primarily asking people to use a website instead of a paper form, and then the coronavirus has come along and sucked up a ton of attention. 

Stay Awhile!

Thanks for looking out for your neighbors and raising your hand to get counted in the census. Be sure to come back tomorrow when I’m sharing strategies for taking care of your own mental health during the coronavirus crisis so that you can be strong for your kids and/or the Chicken Littles in your life. 

And set a reminder to come back and listen next week, when I’m doing a special theme week called Happy at Home, so that we can make the most of the time we spend social distancing from each other, and keep a positive outlook even if we are quarantined, should it come to that, in the weeks ahead. 


Want to be a better person, but don’t know where to start?

My new daily podcast, How to Be a Better Person, is here to help by sharing one simple thing you can do in the next 24 hours to rise. My mission? To help you live your best life.

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