The public has been getting daily reminders of activities that are limited or banned in this time of social distancing and quarantine — here’s a reminder of something you can be doing right now.
In fact, as state Sen. Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) reminds us, it’s a really important thing to do: Fill out your 2020 census form by April 1 — the official mark of the country’s 24th census, which is mandated in the Constitution and occurs every 10 years.
The form is brief and easy. As policymakers frequently point out, the census data is used in decision making, including funding for kids, help for aging adults, planning roads and other infrastructure, as well as drafting electoral maps.
Responses can be done online, by phone or by mail and many households have already received information on how to participate. More information is available at 2020census.gov.
“The census is a head count of each and every person in our country, and it’s our chance to make sure district maps are drawn fairly,” said Shilling. “From emergency services and healthcare programs, to transportation and public schools, it helps determine how billions of state and federal dollars are allocated each year.”
The census operation fully kicked off a week ago, according to U.S. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham. As of Wednesday, he reports that more than 11 million households nationwide have responded: “America is stepping up to shape our future and ensure families and communities are counted,” said Dillingham.
Filling out a form ASAP is also a good way to help the 2020 Census field operations, as ramping up for that effort — including visits to nursing homes and homeless shelters, mobile health stations and other face-to-face activities — are on hold or being reassessed due to COVID-19. The door-to-door and on-site operations are key to making sure that under-counted populations get counted. They are currently scheduled to begin in late May for households that have not already responded.
Making certain that college students are counted also became more complex in this pandemic as most institutions have moved classes online and many students have returned to their permanent residences, which caused the Census Bureau to make further modifications.
Gov. Tony Evers advised that it will “guide our civic life” in the coming decade.
“For Wisconsin, this census will produce both a report card on where we’re at and a road map to where we’re going,” Evers remarked. “Census results enable leaders at every level of our government to make better decisions, help bring billions of federal tax dollars back home to Wisconsin each year and ensure our state receives the representation we deserve in Washington.
“That’s why participating in the census is so important. The census isn’t just a headcount—it’s about visibility, voice and value,” he added.
“Filling out the census questionnaire is quick, free and easy, and we all have to do our part to make sure our family members, friends, and neighbors are counted so we can keep Wisconsin moving forward, together,” concluded Evers.
Senate Minority Leader Shilling adds, “By filling it out on behalf of your household, you can help ensure your community and our state is fairly represented for the next ten years.”