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2020 Census – What, Why, and How?

In 2020, the United States will once again be counting its population through a Census, a practice mandated by our Constitution. An accurate count is crucial to determining what funds and resources will be allocated to each town, county, and state, as well as how district lines are drawn. The numbers also determine how many seats each State receives in the House of Representatives. While it may seem like a pain or even an invasion, in reality an accurate Census count has a deep impact on the everyday lives of people living in the Unites States, and will continue to do so for the next decade.

Important Things to Know

  • The citizenship question WILL NOT be on the Census. Please count all household members, regardless of citizenship status.
  • Census data is some of the most protected government data. No one outside of the Census Bureau can see your response; your data will only be used to produce statistics.
  • Census takers will never ask you for: your social security number, bank or credit card information, donations, or anything on behalf of a political party.

How the Library Can Help

  • Free computers and internet access. Everyone is welcome to use one of our desktop computers, or connect to our free WiFi on their own device, to complete their census online.
  • Quiet study rooms. If you need a quiet place to complete your form, just ask us for a study room.
  • This page. We have done our best to make the answers to your most pressing questions available on this page. We also gathered reliable resources if you need further clarification, or just want to know more.


When does the Census start?

  • You will receive an invitation to participate in March, 2020.

When is the Census due?

  • You will receive an invitation to participate in the Census in March, 2020; it is recommended that you fill out the questionnaire quickly to avoid receiving mail reminders, and, eventually, a visit from a Census worker. A Census worker will be sent if you have not submitted your form by the end of April, 2020.

Where do I get a form?

  • For the first time, the Census will be conducted online. In the invitation you receive from the Census Bureau by mail (starting March, 2020), you will be given a unique ID for you household, and instructions for accessing and filling out the online form.
  • If your household has not completed the online form by mid-April, you will receive a paper copy of the form in the mail. (Note: you can’t obtain a paper form simply by calling the Census Bureau. All forms are coded to a specific address.)

How do I submit my form?

  • This year, forms will be submitted online, but there will also be options for submitting your form by mail, or answering the questionnaire by phone. You will receive instructions for submitting your form in the mail.

Will the information I submit be used against me?

  • As the Census Bureau states, “By law we cannot share your information with immigration enforcement agencies, law enforcement agencies, or allow it to be used to determine your eligibility for government benefits.”

Do I count my infant?

  • Yes, count all household members, regardless of age.

Do I count household members who are not related to me?

  • Yes, count all household members, regardless of their relationship to you.

Will someone be knocking on my door?

  • Census workers are only sent to your door if you fail to submit your form online, by mail, or over the phone by the end of April, 2020.


The U.S. Census Bureau

Illinois Complete Count Commission

The Chicago Region of the Census Bureau

Hotline for Latinx respondents:

The Census Bureau is hiring!