2020 Census: The Political Importance of Being Counted

Mar 24, 2020

(New York, NY) — In honor of Black Census Week, National Action Network is taking a moment to prepare information that will help you easily fill out your census, get counted, and get political representation for the next ten years!

The Census is a vital aspect of the American political system. It’s one of the first mandates of our constitution – that every 10 years, everyone in the nation has to be counted. The result of this count not just a population tally – the results of the Census majorly factor into how we allocate political power. By being counted, you are influencing how we to allocate congressional seats, draw voting districts, distribute federal funds, and many other governmental issues. The more people that are counted in an area, the more political influence that area can exert.

Much is at stake if marginalized communities go uncounted. Government resources that they access and depend on – such as schools, hospitals, community centers, and civil infrastructures – will be at risk. Voting rights will be more vulnerable to infringement. Black communities need to be counted in order to maintain a voice.

History of Census Failing Black Populations

Going uncounted is not a new issue in the black community. Since the Constitutional Amendment of the Three-Fifths Compromise, which counted enslaved black peoples as 3/5 of a person in a count that was responsible for appropriating congressional districts for the House of Representatives. Since then, there has been a history of the Census Bureau either incorrectly deflating or obscuring the tally for black populations in the United States. One large historical factor in this miscount comes prison from the rate at which the US criminal justice system incarcerates black people, and how prisoners are counted

How the Census works & how to participate

Each household will receive a post card in the mail. This postcard will provide a unique user ID that the household can use to access their census questionnaire online at the US Census 2020 website.

However, this user ID is not necessary to fill out the online questionnaire. Individuals can either begin completing the census by visiting online or by calling 844-330-2020.

Only one individual per residence needs to fill out the census questionnaire. They will complete the census as the “head of the household”, and on behalf of other family members in the residence.

Important Dates

March 12th — Households will begin to receive mail with their user IDs. Households can start submitting their census questionnaire.
March 30th – April 1st — The Census Bureau will count people who are experiencing homelessness.
May – July — Census takers will visit homes to count those who have not responded to the census.
December — The Census Bureau sends each state’s total population to the President and Congress. The apportionment process is conducted.