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Have Questions About Why Census 2020 Matters to KC? Counting Yourself Is More Important Than You Think

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1 minute read

It happens once a decade, and the next one is scheduled for 2020. 

What is it? The U.S. census, where the government does the official headcount for the country.  The process is expected to take the entire year before results are delivered to the president in December of next year.

Thomas Jefferson led the first census in 1790, and since then the Constitution requires a decennial headcount.

The census form began with only six questions. In 2010, there were 10 questions

And as of 2019, the most recent changes have to do with race, ethnicity and identity: 

  • Those who identify as Hispanic will check a box to categorize themselves as Chicano, Puerto Rican or Cuban or “another Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin.” 
  • Black and white participants will now have the option to write in their origins, such as “German” or “Haitian,” for example. 
  • Categories for Asian and Pacific Islanders were expanded to include Korean, Filipino, Asian Indian, Samoan and others.
  • There is now an added distinction between same-sex and opposite-sex couples. 

The Trump administration’s push to add a question about citizenship – which has not been part of the census since 1950 — sparked a lengthy battle in the courts and within the administration itself. The controversy has sparked almost daily twists and turns. Ultimately, President Donald Trump announced on July 12 that the citizenship question will not be added for the 2020 headcount.

So why is the census important? 

Along with congressional apportionment, the official headcount also ensures that communities get their fair share of the nearly $800 billion the federal government allocates each year for priorities like schools and hospitals. 

More specifically, the headcount impacts how federal monies will be distributed to tribal, state and local governments, and the number of seats each state gets in the House of Representatives. It helps determine the community’s needs for housing assistance, emergency response and designing facilities for people with disabilities, elderly people and children. 

In an effort to make participation easier, the 2020 census will allow online responses, in addition to in-person, phone and email.

So, Kansas Citians, tell us – what matters to you? What do you want to know or wonder about the 2020 census? 

Your questions will help us inform your fellow citizens about this important issue. Please feel free to email Flatland’s community reporter Vicky Diaz-Camacho with questions, tips or comments. 

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