The Census and You

The Constitution mandates a census of U.S. residents every 10 years. That information is used to draw congressional districts and much more. Businesses, hospitals, local governments, schools, nonprofits like the Red Cross, Catholic Charities and hundreds of other organizations use census data to plan and provide services. Federal funding for many different vital programs is based on local population.

The first census was in 1790 and the next one is this year. The census has always been done by mail but in 2020, the internet will be the primary place to respond. In early March, every address in America will receive a postcard from the US Census Bureau. The card will include a PIN/ID and a web address. All you have to do is go to the website, login with your PIN/ID and answer the questions. Once you are done, hit the submit button and your answers are sent. The PIN/ID you used is then invalid and cannot be used by anyone else. The whole process should take 30 minutes or less but you can save your answers and log back in to finish later if necessary. You can also use the PIN/ID to answer by telephone. 

The questions are very simple and your answers are completely confidential. The Census Bureau and its employees face serious criminal charges if they ever leak and that has never happened, not once in 230 years. Names are legally released 72 years after a census is conducted. Those names are fundamental to family research. Did you ever wonder where online genealogy sites like gets a lot of their info? If you were able to find out where your great-great-grandparents lived and who lived with them, that is thanks to the US Census.

If you don’t have internet access at home, you can complete the Census survey at the Leavenworth Public Library. You can use your library card to login to one of our computers. If you don’t have a card, ask for a Guest Pass at the Reference Desk. A phone will also be available if you prefer to call the Census to answer the questions. You will need to bring the postcard you received from the Census Bureau to answer online or by phone.

Answering the census makes a real difference to people right here in Leavenworth. A good piece of your tax dollars come back to town through a federal Community Development Block Grant. The City’s grant depends on its population. If residents don’t answer the census, the City’s population may be under-reported. If that happens, around $300,000 may be lost that funds places like the Alliance Against Family Violence, St. Vincent’s Clinic, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), the Leavenworth Mission and the Guidance Center. Every year these agencies help over 7,000 of our neighbors escape abuse, feed their children, receive necessary medical and mental health care and get emergency fixes to their homes including handicapped ramps and furnace repair.  

When you receive the postcard from the Census Bureau, get online and fill out the survey. If you don’t have a computer or the internet, come to the Library and we can get you set-up. It’s free, it’s easy and it matters.