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CENSUS 2020 – The Importance of Counting


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Beginning April 1, 2020, the federal government begins a process that occurs only once every ten years: counting (or attempting to count) every person living in the U.S. and collecting demographic data from them.

The U.S. Constitution mandates that a census of the population, all people living on American soil, be conducted once every ten years (Article 1, Section 2).  Census data is used to reapportion Congressional representation among the states and to determine how billions in federal funds are distributed to states and local communities every year for services and infrastructure, including health care, jobs, schools, roads, and businesses. Census data is also used for drawing political boundaries for local, state, and federal elections.

Dr. Steven Dillingham, Census Bureau Director, has indicated that the census is one of the few national activities the American public does together – “It’s the largest peacetime mobilization in our country, and it’s a cornerstone of our democracy.”

The U.S. Census Bureau describes the effort as “Counting Everyone Once, Only Once, and in the Right Place.”  Count everyone in the U.S. every ten years.  It sounds simple, right?  Yet, it is incredibly complex.

Idaho’s Governor Brad Little has appointed a State Complete Count Committee (SCCC) to assure everyone is counted.  The goal will be to ensure that Idahoans are not undercounted.  In 2010, Idaho had a 76% response rate.  The SCCC is committed to exceed that number.

How Will This Work?

Households will receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census in one of two ways.

  • The Census Bureau will mail a notice to all households encouraging online participation for a completed decennial survey by April 1.
  • For households that have P.O. Boxes, a census worker may deliver the survey to the physical address.
  • The 2020 census will be the first “high tech” census.  Every household will have the option of responding to the ten questions online – by smartphone, tablet, computer, over the phone, or on paper.   Online access in Idaho will begin March 23.  National Census Day is April 1.  The Census Bureau process anticipates wrapping up its work in late July.


  • March 23: Online access in Idaho will begin.
  • April 1: April 1 is Census Day—households can respond online, by mail, or by phone.
  • June 2020 through July 2020: Census takers go door to door to count people who have not responded to the 2020 Census.
  • Dec. 31, 2020: The Census Bureau delivers the population count and the apportionment of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives by state to the president.
  • 2021: Initial 2020 Census data are made available to the public on



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