The 2020 Census: The Importance of Being Counted, Especially Now

The U.S. Constitution provides that every ten years, the United States must conduct a census to count the entire population of the nation. Moreover, federal law requires each person to complete the census. Each year, the federal government distributes more than $675 billion to states and communities based on Census Bureau data. Additionally, information gathered in the census is used to determine how many Representatives each state has in Congress and is used to redraw the congressional district boundaries. Local communities rely on census data to plan for new roads, schools, and emergency services. In the private sector, businesses use the census data to decide where to build factories, offices, and stores which create jobs in the community. In order for your community to receive the maximum benefit from the 2020 Census, every member must be counted.

The United States Census Bureau has made the process of responding to the 2020 census easier than ever. Beginning in Mid-March each household will receive an invitation to respond to the census with options for how to respond. You may respond online where the questionnaire will be available in English and 12 additional languages. You can also respond by phone in English or 12 additional languages. If you would prefer to respond to the questionnaire on paper, the Census Bureau will be mailing paper questionnaires to every household that has yet to respond by mid-April. Finally, those who prefer to respond in person will be able to do so in mid-May as census takers will being visiting all household that have not yet responded. Census workers will make six attempts to find residents who do not return forms. So, if you want to avoid finding a Census Bureau field representative on your doorstep, complete the questionnaire online or over the phone when you receive it in mid-March.

Similar to process servers, associations must admit census workers performing official business for the 2020 Census. In accordance with Section 223 of Title 13 of the U.S. Code provides that anyone who willfully neglects give free ingress and egress to a duly accredited representative of the Census Bureau may be subject to a fine of up to $500.00. The Census Bureau has also provided information to help you verify that an individual visiting your association and/or home, as the case may be, is actually a Census Bureau employee. You and your association’s security gate personnel will be able to verify a Census Bureau field representative using the following information:

  • A Census Bureau field representative will always present an ID badge that includes their name, their photograph, a Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date.
  • A Census Bureau field representative will be carrying an official bag with the Census Bureau logo or a laptop, and will provide a letter from the Census Bureau on official letterhead stating why they are visiting your residence or community.
  • If you or your association’s security staff desire to independently verify a field representative’s status, you can enter the person’s name in the Census Bureau’s staff search website at www.census.gov/cgi-bin/main/email.cgi or contact the regional office for Florida by calling (470) 889-6800.

Understandably, you may be concerned over the confidentiality of your census responses, but the law is clear: no personal information can be shared. All the information you share is protected by law and cannot be used against you. The Census Bureau is prohibited from releasing any identifiable information about individuals, households, or businesses, even to law enforcement agencies. The Census Bureau and its employees are prohibited from releasing information that identifies you personally. Each employee and contractor is sworn to protect your information, and a violation of that oath can result in a fine up to $250,000 and/or up to five years in prison. The Census Bureau takes strong precautions to protect online responses as well. All data is encrypted to protect personal privacy and once the Census Bureau receives the data it is taken offline.

Not only does, federal law requires you to complete the census, but Section 221 of Title 13 of the U.S. Code even provides that a $100 fine will be imposed on anyone over the age of eighteen who refuses or willfully neglects to complete the census.  So, what are you waiting for? Go and complete your 2020 Census- the information gathered in the 2020 Census will be of vital importance to your association, your surrounding neighborhoods, the city, county and state.


COVID-19 UPDATE:

The health and safety of your Community and all residents is very important to us. We also realize that our clients have uncertainty and concerns around the continuing operation of your Community, and our team of attorneys will remain available to all of you during these times.

In addition, we added a very useful and informative section to our website. Visit it by clicking HERE.

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