2020 census forms now available

Invitations to participate in the 2020 census are now being sent out to every home across the country, with everyone required to participate.

On March 28, the United States Census Bureau announced in a press release that field operations would be suspended until April 15 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The available time to respond online has been extended to Aug. 14, as the bureau is strongly encouraging people to respond online to maintain social distancing. 

The United States Census Bureau conducts a nationwide census every ten years, with the 2020 census being the 24th. It counts every person currently living in the country at the time of the census, as well as the five U.S. territories. Responding to the census is mandated by the Constitution under Article 1, Section 2, as well as required by law under Title 13 of the U.S. Code. Failure to respond could result in a fine up to $100, while false answers could result in up to a $500 fine.

Every house in the country will receive a census invitation by April 1, which is observed as Census Day. Responses can be recorded online, over the phone or by mail. In the coming months, census takers will work to count the homeless as well as facilities that are home to large groups of people. The Census Bureau will present the results to Congress and the president in December.

The collected census data goes to both the local and state governments to influence federal funding. 

“Every year, billions of dollars in federal funding go to hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads and other resources based on census data,” the census website stated.

The data also determines how many seats each state receives in the United States House of Representatives. Congressional and state legislative districts are also formed from these numbers.

Some people might have questions about how to respond due to their current living situations. College students should be counted at their on or off campus housing, even if they are home early because of the COVID-19 pandemic. An expecting mother should only count her baby if it is born before April 1.

Ashley Young, Kirksville assistant city manager, said in a press release that completing the census has never been easier, with so many channels now available. Young emphasized how important the census is as it determines funding for vital infrastructure in Kirksville.

Young said $675 billion in federal funding is determined from the census. Young also said it is important every house in Kirksville complete the census form. 

“Every resident of our community counts and deserves to be counted,” Young said.