2020 US Census
Did you receive your 2020 Census in the mail? I notice that a lot of the questions seem to ask for personal information such as name, race, etc.
Did you fill out all this information? I’m hesitant because the last time I filled out all my information that was government-related, I was a victim of identity theft.
The Census is required by the Constitution. The main questionnaire is brief, and is required by law. It is used to determine representation in Congress and to redraw state and federal legislative districts to be even sized. It is also used to divvy up over $675 billion per year in federal funding. More people means more of that goes to your state.
Some people get asked to do additional surveys like the American Community Survey (probably what @hoosier52 got). That one also impacts federal resources sent to states. The information you report there is not associated with you after submission.
I’d encourage everyone to complete the regular Census online, so no one has to come to your door in these times of “social distancing.”
We haven’t looked at ours yet, although I checked mail today and saw that it was in.
I will say that census records are how my mother was able to construct our genealogy. She was able to tell so much from the questions that were asked in the 1800s. It meant a lot to see the names and occupations of the people who had come before us. It made them seem more real. Knowing that they had moved after the Civil War, or that someone had lost a child or chosen to not remarry after a death.
I guess a small part of me likes knowing that there will be an official record of me after I’m gone. It may matter to someone someday.
I think the basic info on who lives in your home is OK. They’ve always asked for name, age and race. It’s supposed to be a population count.
I got the long form last time and they wanted to know my income, what time I left for work. When I came home from work, what route I took to work,c coming home, and a whole lot more private information. I refused to fill it out.
They harassed me and threatened me with jail time. They sent an agent to my house. I pointed at the No Trespassing sign I had put up in anticipation of her coming and told he to get off my property and never come back or I’d have her arrested and anyone she brought with her. That was the last time I heard from them.
If you get that long form, throw it in the trash and do not open it unless you don’t mind putting very personal info in the public domain.
Don’t forget, the govt. used census info to round up the Japanese-Americans when WWII started an put them in camps.
I emailed The Christian Law Association to find out my rights regarding the form and here is their response:
Thank you for contacting the Christian Law Association regarding the Census Survey.
The short answer is you must fill out what is requested. I certainly appreciate the nature of your question. Given the onerous nature of the Surveys administered by the U. S. Census Bureau, I fully understand the plaintive nature of your inquiry. I have had numerous testimonies of Census takers badgering citizens who are leery of responding to such an intrusive request for data. Years ago I completed a version of the American Community Survey and it seemed unnecessarily intrusive even at that time. Believe it or not, it has been around in one form or another since 1850. In 2012 the House of Representatives voted to abolish it but the bill died in the Senate.
Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution provides, in pertinent part: “The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.” The phrase “in such Manner as they shall by Law direct” authorizes Congress to enact laws related to the census, which was done in the Census Act of August 31, 1954 (with amendments in 1976, 1994, and 1999). The laws are found in Title 13 of the Unites States Code.
The United States Code provides that a fine of $100 per question may be imposed upon anyone who refuses or willfully neglects “to answer, to the best of his knowledge, any of the questions on any schedule submitted to him in connection with any census” permitted under Title 13 of the Code. The American Community Survey is administered “in connected with” the 2010 census. The one exception is that no person “shall be compelled to disclose information relative to his religious beliefs or to membership in a religious body.” A person who is found to have willfully given false answers to any of the census questions may be fined up to $500 per question. (13 U.S.C. § 221).
Every decennial census raises questions as to just how much information may be gathered by the census questionnaires. As previously stated, Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution mandates that a census, or “enumeration,” be taken every ten years “in such manner as [Congress] shall by Law direct” for the purpose of apportioning Representatives among the several states. Pursuant to this mandate, Congress has adopted broad legislation which allows the Secretary of Commerce to “determine the inquiries” to be made (13 U.S.C. § 5), and to take the census “in such form and content as he may determine, including the use of sampling procedures and special surveys.” (13 U.S.C. § 141(a)). Section 141(g) further broadens the information which may be collected in the census by defining “census of population” as “a census of population, housing, and matters relating to population and housing.” Census statistics are used to determine eligibility for “any program established by or under Federal law which provides benefits to State or local governments or to other recipients.” (13 U.S.C. § 141 (e)).
Through the last century the Government has prosecuted a few individuals who refused to answer some or all census form questions upon the constitutional grounds of illegal search and seizure; invasion of privacy; deprivation of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; or taking private property without just compensation. In every case the census forms and schedules survived the constitutional challenges because, said the courts, the information is used for statistical purposes only and it is strictly confidential.
The invasiveness of the questions has also survived legal challenge. I can find no case in which a census question was found by a court to be unreasonable. If the question is even tangentially connected to population, housing, or labor, the court will uphold its being asked. Said one court, “the authority to gather reliable statistical data reasonably related to governmental purposes and functions is a necessity if modern government is to legislate intelligently and effectively.” United States v. Rickenbacker, 309 F.2d 462 (2d Cir. 1962). See also United States v. Little, 317 F. Supp. 1308 (D. Del. 1970); and Morales v. Evans, 116 F. Supp. 2d 801 (S.D. Tex. 2000).
In each of the census prosecution cases during the Twentieth Century a fine was levied against the defendant. It is generally no more than $100. These past cases are very few in number. That fact, however, is no guarantee that the Government will not engage in a large scale prosecution of those who intentionally fail to answer census questions. Neither should those cases be taken as a guarantee that the fines will remain relatively small.
I cannot advise you to refuse to answer the census questions. However, I trust that I have given you enough information for you to be able to make a considered decision as to what your response will be to further inquiries by census takers. In short, a court would in all likelihood decide that you are required by law to answer all the questions on the census form. You would probably not go to jail for failure to answer, but you could be fined up to $100 per unanswered question (although that is not likely either).
We have seen nothing at our house from the census bureau. The city has sent two flyers about responding. Interestingly, we did not receive anything at this address in 2010 and no census worker called on our house. We live in a medium sized city and our neighborhood is established. I plan on reaching out to the census bureau by the end of the month if we do not receive anything in the mail.