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Get Ready for the 2020 Census: Know Your Rights, Be Counted

Census 2020 signing

On August 12, the United States Census Bureau announced that their employees would begin walking through neighborhoods in cities across the country to confirm home addresses. “Neighborhood Address Canvassing” is officially underway, now through October 18, 2019. Census employees will knock on doors and ask a few short questions to verify the address and any additional living spaces on the property for inclusion in the 2020 Census.

At all times, canvassers will introduce themselves as a Census Bureau employee, show their official government ID badge, and explain the purpose of the visit. You may also ask the employee for a picture ID from another source (e.g., their driver’s license) to confirm their identity.

You do not need to open your door to Census Bureau employees. You can ask for them to first show you their badge and Census-branded gear through a window. You can also ask for them to more fully explain the reason for their visit. You may also open the door, close it behind you, and talk to them outside. You should only open your door if you feel fully comfortable doing so.

Note: The 2020 Census will NOT include a citizenship question. The federal administration abandoned their attempts to include a citizenship question in early July.

It is important to participate in the Census. Census data helps determine funding for programs and services. Following are frequently asked questions that will help explain the process and its importance to our region.

What is the U.S. Census?

The United States Constitution requires that the federal government conduct a Census every 10 years to count every person living in the country.

Who gets counted?

Every person living in the U.S., regardless of age, race, gender, sexuality, economic status, and citizenship status.

When is the Census?

The next Census will take place on April 1, 2020.

How do we get counted?

In March 2020, every household will receive an invitation in the mail or from a Census worker to respond to the online Census questionnaire. You will also be able to fill out a paper version of the questionnaire.

What will the Census information be used for?

The federal government uses the collected information from the U.S. Census to help decide where money should go for services and programs that help residents. These programs include school lunch programs, Medicaid, SNAP (aka “food stamps”), Section 8 housing, Head Start, and more.

Census data is also an important part of our democracy, as Census information determines the distribution of seats in the House of Representatives and how district lines are drawn at all levels of government.

How will the U.S. Census Bureau protect the confidentiality of my data?

We know that many communities do not trust our federal government and are worried that information they include on their Census form will not be protected. Current federal law prohibits the Census Bureau from publishing identifying information.

Why is the Census important for Seattle, King County, and Washington State?

Because the Census happens only once every 10 years, the consequences of having inaccurate data are not just statistical. People’s lives could be significantly impacted for an entire decade.

Although city and county governments will not be administering the Census questionnaires, the City of Seattle and King County both play critical roles in making sure all our residents have what they need to participate in the Census.

Where can I learn more about the 2020 Census?

Stay informed and updated on the 2020 Census! Visit and for more information on how our region is getting ready for the 2020 Census. Share this information with others. Help family, friends, and neighbors fill out the Census in April 2020.

Know your rights and be counted!

Seattle Census 2020 Flyer

This article was compiled from information provided by the Office of Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan and the Office of King County Executive Dow Constantine.

Photo at top shows Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, Seattle Foundation President and CEO Tony Mestres, and King County Executive Dow Constantine as they signed a partnership to fund Census outreach on April 1, 2019. Photo courtesy of the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods.

Posted in Legal Concerns