The year 2020 is bringing us many things, with one of the most important being the U.S. Census. The U.S. Census is one of the foundations of our representative democracy. Under Article 1, Section 2 of the United States Constitution, each state is to be equal in the Senate, but representation in the House of Representatives is based on population. To accomplish that goal, our constitution requires that every person living in the United States be counted every ten years. The results determine how many seats each state will have in Congress for the next ten years.
Ninety-five percent, or about 143 million households in the country will receive an initial invitation to respond to the 2020 Census in their mailboxes between March 12th and 20th. Households are encouraged to respond when they receive their invitation. Depending on how likely the area is to respond online, households will receive either an invitation encouraging them to respond online or by phone (about 112 million households), or an invitation along with a paper questionnaire (about 31 million households).
All invitations will include a short phrase in English and 12 additional languages inviting people to respond online or by phone in their language. In areas where 20 percent or more of the households need Spanish assistance, the invitations will be in both English and Spanish.
All households receiving an invitation in the mail will receive a second letter in the mail shortly after reminding them to respond. Then, households that still haven’t responded will receive a series of additional reminders, including a paper questionnaire in mid-April. Census takers will follow up with households that don’t respond to collect responses in person.