Have you filled out the 2020 Census yet? The US Census tracks population in every state and determines how one of the most fundamental (if fraught) aspects of our democracy functions. Briefest history lesson: Way back when, at the Federal Constitutional Convention of 1787, it was decided that the United States House of Representatives would use something called proportional representation, meaning that the number of representatives that each state sends to Congress in the House of Representatives are apportioned based on state population. State population is determined by—you guessed it—the Census. The data is also used in redistricting that determines where people elect their representatives to the House of Representatives, their state legislature, county or city councils, and school boards. And it’s not just about votes, it’s also about money. The Census provides the population data used for distributing federal funds for everything from schools to infrastructure to emergency services.
Wherever you are in the US, fill out the 2020 census. I filled mine out online a month or two ago and it was quick and easy. You can peck out the responses while binge-watching a TV show. You wouldn’t be wrong to fill it out on your phone while keeping one eye trained on kids in the sand box. You could also pass the responsibility along to someone else in your household, but please do make sure that someone in your household has completed the census. Last month, the Census Bureau began their in-person interviews for folks who still haven’t completed their census. If a Census taker knocks on your door, put on a mask and say hello.