People who live in Ohio could miss out on a lot if everyone is not counted in the Census. Ohio could lose out on the political representation it deserves. And, people and communities could be denied money that they need for schools, community health care, jobs, and transportation.
In 2016, Ohio received more than $33 billion from federal spending programs guided by data derived from the 2010 Census. Ohio can’t afford to miss out!
Every 10 years, the United States conducts a “Decennial Census.” The goal of the census is to count every person who lives in the country where they live. This includes people of all ages and citizenship statuses. The census is mandated in the Constitution and it is required by law that you respond. Traditionally, every household would get a form in the mail that is filled out with information about everyone who lives in the house. You then send the form back.
If people do not fill out and submit the census, then people called “Enumerators” will come to your home and ask for the information directly. The 2020 Census will be asking people to fill out the information either on a form they receive in the mail or via an online, internet form.
HOW IS CENSUS DATA USED? Census data is used to help the Federal government decide where money should go. Over $600 billion per year is distributed to communities across the United States based on census data. This funding includes money on infrastructure and roads, health care, schools, and more. The more accurate the census count is in your community, the more likely your community is to get the resources that is needs and deserves to serve community members.
Additionally, local government and non-government groups also use census data to determine where to provide services like bus routes, how to design school districts, where to build businesses, and how to prepare for emergencies. Census data is also used to work on Civil Rights issues including determining if states are violating the Civil Rights Act in housing, employment, or education. Enforcement of the Voting Rights Act also heavily relies on information that is gathered in the census. Census data is also an important part of reapportionment and redistricting. Reapportionment happens following the census and is the process that decides how many seats a state has in the House of Representatives. If the population of a state raises or lowers dramatically, your state could receive more or less representation in the House as a result. Redistricting is the process of dividing up a state into districts based on how many seats the state has. Districts are also drawn using census data for state legislative bodies. Redistricting should keep communities together, which is not possible without an accurate census that tells us where people are.
WHAT DO THEY ASK ON THE CENSUS? The Census Bureau spends years testing what questions to ask on the census, and how to ask them, to make sure they are obtaining the information they need and helping respondents know how to answer. The 2010 Census asked:
1. How many people were living or staying in this house, apartment, or mobile home on April 1, 2010?
2. Were there any additional people staying here April 1, 2010 that you did not include in Question 1?
3. Is this house, apartment, or mobile home: owned with mortgage, owned without mortgage, rented, occupied without rent?
4. What is your telephone number?
5. Please provide information for each person living here. Start with a person here who owns or rents this house, apartment, or mobile home. If the owner or renter lives somewhere else, start with any adult living here. This will be Person 1. What is Person 1’s name?
6. What is Person 1’s sex?
7. What is Person 1’s age and Date of Birth?
8. Is Person 1 of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin?
9. What is Person 1’s race?
10. Does Person 1 sometimes live or stay somewhere else?
WHAT ARE THE HARD TO COUNT COMMUNITIES YOU JUST MENTIONED? Hard to count communities are those that have traditionally been harder for the Census Bureau to reach. They include:
- Racial and ethnic minorities
- Undocumented immigrants
- Persons who do not speak English fluently
- Lower income persons
- Homeless persons
- Young mobile persons
- Persons who are angry at and/or distrust the government
- LGBTQ persons
This is something [communities] have to take responsibility for ourselves to make sure Ohio gets the slice of the pie that it deserves. The most valuable messenger for the Census is the person you see every day—the person on your bus, the person who does your hair. You care about roads? You should care about the Census. You care about crime victims? You should care about the Census.