By Gretta Becay
Disruptions caused by fears of the spreading Corona virus have not yet stopped or even slowed the U.S. 2020 census. In fact, the first mailings to residents are arriving in mailboxes across the nation. Invitations to answer the 2020 census questions via computer should be delivered between March 12 and March 20.
This is the first year that responses may be made online.
The U.S. has been taking a census since 1790. The Constitution requires that the government “count the population,” and the first one began during President Washington’s first term and they have continued every decade since then.
If you don’t answer the first census notice, a reminder letter will be delivered between March 16 and 24. Then a reminder postcard will go out between March 26 and April 3. A final reminder postcard will be delivered between April 20 and April 27. Some the dates above will be delayed; the exact date changes are not yet known.
When you receive the questions, you may answer via computer, by phone, or by mail.
If you decide not to respond in any of these ways, a census taker will visit your residence.
The census strives to count every person living in the U.S. as of April 1, whether or not they are citizens. It is completely anonymous and is available in 59 languages.
The data is protected by law and cannot be used against residents in any way.
County Actions and why the census matters
In Dodge County, a group of people making up the Complete Count Committee have been working for months to help ensure that every resident in the county is counted.
The census count determines how much in federal funds the state receives and it determines our representation in both the state legislature and Congress.
The estimated $15 billion in federal funds for Minnesota is spread over education, healthcare, infrastructure, unemployment benefits, food assistance, public safety, help for small businesses, family services, housing assistance and state wildlife grants.
According to census data, more than 44,000 people live somewhere else during part of the year. It’s important that they are counted as Minnesota residents and that count could help decide if Minnesota keeps its eighth seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
OutreachIn Dodge County, outreach is ongoing. Members of the Committee include all city administrators and/or clerks, county officials including Gabriela Burk, Financial Capability Educator, University of Minnesota Extension; Sara Marquardt, Accounting Services Director; Ryan DeCook, Director of Land Records; and Jim Elmquist, County Administrator. Bryan Byholm, GIS System Specialist from Goodhue County, has provided vital assistance. Dodge County partners with Goodhue County for GIS (global information system) services. Information from the system is used to help ensure correct addresses are used for the census forms since many rural addresses have been added since the 2010 census.