MARYSVILLE – With the 2020 U.S. Census only weeks away, residents are being urged to make themselves count by completing the brief survey that decides how federal tax dollars are divvied back into communities like Marysville.
In an age where life is more complicated and more Americans get their information from devices and gadgets, the Census is moving away from paper surveys as the main way to gather data, which might also save a little money, too. Residents will be able to respond to this Census on the internet, tablets or mobile phones, while Census workers in the field will use mobile phone apps.
Although the Census does not kick off officially until April 1, residents will be able to start self-responding online March 12. A notice will arrive in the mail explaining online and by-phone options. A follow-up reminder letter and postcard to take the survey will be sent to homes to get numbers up.
Residents who prefer the traditional paper Census will need to wait until April 8-16 for it to arrive in the mail.
A few weeks after April 1, census takers will start visiting homes that haven’t responded.
The Census is mandated under the Constitution, and the population has been counted every 10 years since 1790.
Lisa McLean, Census coordinator for Complete Count in Washington state, said participating in the Census is important to democracy and the distribution of political power. In 2010, for example, Washington state gained an extra seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
But the most-important reason to participate is money. In 2016, the federal government dispersed $880 billion to local governments. Of that, $16.7 billion went to Washington state, or about $2,319 per person, helping fund health, education, housing, rural assistance, bridge and highway maintenance, and other areas.
The questionnaire reportedly takes about 10 minutes to answer 10 questions. The survey questions ask for a home address, how many live in the household; names, ages, gender and race of each person; and the relationship of each person in the home to each other.
McLean said the biggest obstacle about the Census is people don’t trust it, and general mistrust of government.
She explained that the Census is governed by Title 13 of the U.S. Code, confidential for 72 years, and it is information that can only be used for statistical purposes.
“The people who work for the Census Bureau are so committed to make sure that you understand they want to keep this information secret and private,” McLean said.
Local Census events
•March 12-20, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Drop in and someone will walk you through the questionnaire and support you as needed. For details go to snohomishcountywa.gov/5418/2020-Census
•March 28, 10-11 a.m. Census 101 Training: What is it? Is it mandatory? Why is it important? What information will you need to provide? How will you be able to respond? Where to go if you have any questions? Marysville Historical Museum, 6805 Armar Road.