Safe, Easy, and Important
Census 2020 is coming soon! Questionnaires will be sent out in March—less than a month away!
A successful census depends on a complete and accurate count of every person living in the United States, regardless of citizenship or immigration status. Without this, the data underlying legislative representation, federal and state formula funding, and planning decisions for an entire decade will be of lower quality. Join us in working towards a complete count in Massachusetts!
Scroll down or use the menu to learn what you can do to contribute to a complete count, view a collection of our favorite Census 2020 resources, and see our responses to the questions we've been hearing most frequently.
Please feel free to copy information written by MAPC directly onto your website or social media channels; there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.
What is the Census?
Mandated by the U.S. Constitution, the Census is a once-in-a-decade count of every person living in the United States, regardless of their citizenship or immigration status. This count extends to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories (Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands).
Why is the Census so important?
Census data is used to:
Geographically define state legislative districts and determine state representation in Congress
The data collected from the Census is used to make sure everyone is equally represented in our political system; an incomplete count could mean that residents of Massachusetts are underrepresented.
Calculate how federal funding is allocated to states
The data collected from the Census affects how $675 billion of federal funds are allocated nation-wide and how over $16 billion in funds are distributed in Massachusetts; an incomplete count could mean less money for important work.
Develop vital information that helps us understand our communities
Accurate Census data is the backbone of MAPC’s research and is essential to continue providing thoughtful and up-to-date information to our municipalities; an incomplete count will impact the accuracy of analysis for an entire decade.
It is imperative that the Commonwealth’s municipalities and residents work to provide a complete and accurate count.
What should I
do to prepare?
Here are a few things that...
your municipality or organization can do now to support a complete count:
Create or support your local Complete Count Committee
Spread the Word: Census 2020 is Safe, Easy and Important
Every city and town in the MAPC region should have a Complete Count Committee focused on attaining full participation in the 2020 Census. If your municipality’s name does not appear on “Find Your Complete Count Committee,” map viewable here, there is not yet a Committee registered with the Secretary of State. Click here to connect with your municipality’s point of contact for the local Complete Count Committee.
Thank you for your assistance in this important effort!
What should I expect in the coming months?
Between March 12 and 20, the Census Bureau will mail a letter invitation to every home in the U.S. encouraging them to fill out their census form online; every household will have the option of responding online, by mail, or by phone. Between March 16 and 24, all households will receive a reminder letter.
If a household has not responded by March 25, they will receive a series of reminder letters and postcards, and if they continue to not respond, and in-person visit by a Census worker.
- Here is a sample of the 2020 Census Questionnaire. The online form will look slightly different but will have the same questions.
- Here is a guide to filling out the 2020 Census Questionnaire.
Frequently Asked Questions
Our Favorite Resources
How to Communicate About the Census
- Community Outreach Toolkit
A 20-page toolkit produced by the Census Bureau, which includes instructions for responding to specific barriers to participation.
- The 2020 Census Communications Toolkit
A 20-page toolkit prepared by the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund. This toolkit includes talking points about the importance of the Census and sample social media posts and campaign graphics and sample email templates.
How to Identify Hard-to-Count Populations in your Municipality
- Who is Hard to Count
Barriers such as language, mistrust in government, privacy and cyber security concerns, nontraditional living arrangements, and more contribute to making some groups harder-to-count than others. This webpage lists these groups.
- Hard to Count Map of Massachusetts
This interactive map, prepared by the Donahue Institute, shows Low Response Scores by Census Tract and the share of certain known hard to count populations.
How the Census Impacts Funding
- “Counting For Dollars” – George Washington University
This document, prepared by the GW Institute of Public Policy, details how funds are allocated to Massachusetts from the 55 large federal spending projects.
Safety and Privacy and How to Avoid Scams
- Safety and Security
This fact sheet, prepared by the Census Bureau, describes the legal and technical measures that are in place that keeps census responses private.
- Census Scams
Unfortunately, while the Census is safe and secure, it’s possible bad actors will try to take advantage of the Census to elicit personal information from respondents. This webpage, prepared by the AARP, provides Do’s and Don’t’s, to avoid scammers. Remember, a Census Worker will never ask for a social security number, money or donations, political party affiliation, bank or credit card information, or your mother’s maiden name.