Be Counted – 2020 Census Guide

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SMRLD will allow all individuals to use public access computers, tablets, or library Wi-Fi to enter their census information, regardless of library card status.

What is the Census | Important Dates | Ways to Respond | Why Does it Matter? Here’s What’s at Stake | Rumors About the Census | Avoiding Fraud and Scams | Technology | Printable Books | Other Helpful Links

What is the Census

Everyone counts. The 2020 Census counts everyone living in the country, including non-citizens, newborns, and babies.

Census 101: What you Need to Know- English

Census 101: What you Need to Know- Spanish

A complete count is not only mandated in the U.S. Constitution; it’s essential for states in order to be allocated the appropriate number of Congressional representatives, federal funding dollars, Electoral College electors, and so on. The U.S. Census Bureau is the federal body charged with administering the census.

Important Dates

“Between March 12 – 20, invitations to participate in the 2020 Census will start arriving in households across the country.”  Read the full story from the Census Bureau newsletter.  

Below is a timeline of how and when the Census Bureau will invite households to complete the 2020 Census questionnaire:

  • March 12-20: Initial invitations to respond online and by phone will be delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. Areas that are less likely to respond online will receive a paper questionnaire along with the invitation to respond online or over the phone.
  • March 16-24: Reminder letters will be delivered.
  • March 26-April 3: Reminder postcards will be delivered to households that have not responded.
  • April 8-16: Reminder letters and paper questionnaires will be delivered to remaining households that have not responded.
  • April 20-27: Final reminder postcards will be delivered to households that have not yet responded before census takers follow up in person.
  • July 16: Census takers will begin interviewing households that have yet to respond to the 2020 Census.
  • September 30: All offices are schedule to complete their work

Ways To Respond

There are three ways to respond to the 2020 Census.

By April 1, 2020, every home will receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census. You will have three options for responding:

  • Online.
  • By phone.
  • By mail.

In mid-March, households will begin receiving official Census Bureau mail with detailed information on how to respond to the 2020 Census.

How the 2020 Census will Invite Everyone to Respond


Why Does it Matter? Here’s What’s at Stake.

Funding for Illinois libraries and social services

As little as a 1% undercount would result in the State of Illinois losing $19,557,435 per year for a decade—a total loss of $195,574,350 that would otherwise have been used to support libraries and critical support services and programs. Libraries are directly affected through reduced funding from the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), funding that supports interlibrary delivery, the SHARE shared catalog, and per capita grants. 

Political representation for Illinoisans

An undercount would result in a smaller voice for Illinois citizens. At the national level, this means underrepresentation for Illinoisans in the U.S. Congress in the form of fewer House seats to represent us. Within the State, an undercount could impact the perceived size and demographic makeup of individual voting districts, resulting in unfairly re-drawn electoral districts and a greater imbalance within the Illinois General Assembly, giving more power to certain districts and less to others.

Where you are Counted Matters brochure- English

Where you are Counted Matters brochure- Spanish

Counting Young Children- English

Counting Young Children- Spanish

Rumors About the Census

A citizenship question will NOT be present on the 2020 Census survey.  Everyone counts. The 2020 Census counts everyone living in the country, including non-citizens.

Your responses to the 2020 Census are safe, secure, and protected by federal law. Your answers can only be used to produce statistics. They cannot be used against you by any government agency or court in any way. 

Why Each Question is Asked

-Visit this Page addressing rumors about the Census.

Avoiding Fraud and Scams

It is important to know that the Census Bureau will not send unsolicited emails to request your participation in the 2020 Census. Further, during the 2020 Census, the Census Bureau will never ask for:

  • Your Social Security number.
  • Your bank account or credit card numbers.
  • Money or donations.

– In addition, the Census Bureau will not contact you on behalf of a political party.

If someone visits your home to collect a response for the 2020 Census, you can do the following to verify their identity:

  • First, check to make sure that they have a valid ID badge, with their photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date.
  • If you still have questions about their identity, you can call 800-923-8282 to speak with a local Census Bureau representative.

If you suspect fraud, call 800-923-8282 to speak with a local Census Bureau representative. If it is determined that the visitor who came to your door does not work for the Census Bureau, contact your local police department.

Tips to Spot Census Scams


The 2020 Census marks the first time there will be an online response option. This modernization is important and brings with it several security and operational challenges and questions. View some of the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Responses here

Census Accessibility

Printable Books

Everyone Counts! pre-K book PDF

¡Todo El Mundo Cuenta! book PDF 

WE COUNT! A 2020 Census Counting Book for Young Children and the Grownups who Love Them

Other Helpful Links

Madison County 2020 CENSUS

St. Louis Public Radio- What You Need to Know About the 2020 Census

U.S. Census Bureau YouTube

America Counts PodcastsPLAY ALL

SAMPLE 2020 Census Questionnaire (English)

SAMPLE 2020 Cemsis Questionnaire (Spanish)

2020 Census FAQ

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