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Census 2020: Count Us In

Since 1790, the United States of America has counted its population every ten years as mandated by the United States Constitution in Article 1, Section 2. As one of its framers, James Madison was a strong proponent of including the census in the Constitution and wanted the official count of the population to be as accurate and complete as possible. Only with a proper accounting, he argued, would public officials be able to “rest their arguments on facts, instead of assertions and conjectures.” 

A group of census takers gather around a table, Chicago, 1910. DN-0008195, Chicago Sun-Times/Chicago Daily News collection, CHM

The census is not just a record-keeping task of counting how many people—citizens and noncitizens—live in the US. The information it gathers is used by the government at all levels, and also by businesses, nonprofits, and policymakers. The results determine our lives for the next ten years, including how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding are distributed to states and communities every year for the next decade, affecting areas such as:

  • Education, such as schools and libraries
  • Emergency response services
  • Healthcare, such as hospitals and Medicaid assistance
  • Transportation, such as the building and maintenance of roads and bridges

The census results also determine how many seats each state gets in Congress. With a new deadline of Wednesday, September 30, it’s more urgent than ever to fill out the census and be counted. Complete the Census.

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