As of today, we're hitting pause on our Stamp NC Blue blog posts. We are doing this for a number of reasons, most importantly because we want everyone to be able to focus on taking care of themselves and those around them.

While you're being a good human being and staying at home as much as you possibly can, remember to complete your census! You should have your invitation soon, if you haven't already gotten it. The unfolding public health crisis makes the risk of significant undercounting in the census an even greater concern.

Last week, we looked at general information, context and challenges around the 2020 census. This week, we'll get more specific.

NC Timetable

  • NC's census efforts started in July 2017 and ramped up in January 2019 with education and outreach to local communities, partners, and leaders. Building infrastructure (offices, staff, logistic planning) continued throughout the year
  • Mid-March 2020 - census notifications are mailed to every address. Here's what it looks like.
  • April - early non-response follow-up (by census takers, aka enumerators) begins in college/university areas where respondents may leave by May)
  • May-August - non-response follow-up to households that haven't self-reported
  • late August/Sept - area census offices begin to close
  • Dec 31 - the census is presented to the (outgoing) president.

Information you're asked to provide

  • April 1 is Census Day. When completing the census, include everyone living in your home, under your roof, on April 1, 2020.
    • friends or family members who are living and sleeping there most of the time. If someone is staying in your home on April 1, and has no usual home elsewhere, count them.
    • count roommates, young children, newborns (even born on April 1 and still in the hospital), and anyone who is renting a space in your home.
    • here are special instructions for people who move on April 1; military personnel; students; foreign citizens; people in shelters, prisons/correctional institutions, health care facilities, RV parks, hotels, transitory locations
  • You can respond online, by phone, or by mail anytime between when you receive your notification and April 1 (ideally). It should take about ten minutes. If your response isn't received in April, you're likely to get a door knock from a census taker. There's a helpful video at this link, btw.
  • Here are links to the ten questions, why they're asked, and instructions.
  • If you skip a question, your other answers will still be counted AND it makes it more likely that you'll get a follow-up phone call or door knock
  • According to federal law, you could be fined for not responding to the census, not answering every question, or giving false information.
  • The Census Bureau will NEVER ask for:
    • your Social Security number
    • money or donations
    • anything on behalf of a political party
    • your bank or credit card account numbers
  • If someone visits your home to collect a response for the 2020 Census, verify their identity:
    * 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, call 800-923-8282 to speak with a local Census Bureau representative.
  • Avoid frauds and scams

Language support

  • "For the 2020 Census, the U.S. Census Bureau plans to provide the Internet Self-Response Instrument and Census Questionnaire Assistance in 12 non-English languages; enumerator instrument, bilingual paper questionnaire, bilingual mailing, and field enumeration materials in Spanish; and language guides, language glossaries, and language identification card in 59 non-English languages." Census language support.
  • Online response languages: English, Spanish, Chinese (Simplified), Vietnamese, Korean, Russian, Arabic, Tagalog, Polish, French, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, Japanese
  • Census Questionnaire Assistance-English, Spanish, Chinese (Mandarin, Cantonese), Vietnamese, Korean, Russian, Arabic, Tagalog, Polish, French, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, Japanese, Includes Telecommunication Device for the Deaf
  • Language Glossaries, Language Identification Card, Language Guides (Video and Print), 59 Non-English Languages, Includes American Sign Language, braille, and large print

Privacy and security
We all take a deep breath here, because we know what can happen to ANY computer system AND (perhaps) we are NOT filled with confidence about the good faith of this administration or the track record of federal computer systems in general. There's always the phone or USPS mail if the idea of using the online system spooks you.

Here's the official statement: "The Census Bureau is bound by Title 13 of the U.S. Code to keep your information confidential. Under Title 13, the Census Bureau cannot release any identifiable information about you, your home, or your business, even to law enforcement agencies. The law ensures that your private data is protected and that your answers cannot be used against you by any government agency or court. The answers you provide are used only to produce statistics. You are kept anonymous: The Census Bureau is not permitted to publicly release your responses in any way that could identify you or anyone else in your home."

Here's a one-page summary. AND here's a thorough report on census confidentiality and security from the Brennan Center, which I find more reassuring than the rest. And lastly, from NC Child on the use of differential privacy for the first time, which both enhances individual privacy and possibly limits future research applications.

Other political and governmental data collection efforts that may seem like the census and aren't
With any effort as important and politically charged as the census, there's certain to be confusion, right? Here are two efforts at confusion from the GOP that we've heard about, there may be more:

  • From Popular Info (subscription): "The Trump campaign is flooding Facebook with deceptive ads about the Census...The Trump campaign is currently running more than 1,000 ads urging users to 'take the Official 2020 Congressional District Census today.' The ads also include an image of the '2020 Census.'...Users that click on the ad are directed to a campaign website labeled as the 'Certified Website of President Donald J. Trump.' The upper right of the landing page says, 'For Official Use Only.' There is a clear and deliberate attempt to make this look like a government document." These ads were reported to Facebook, which initially refused to take them down, however, Hours after the publication of this report, Facebook abruptly reversed course and said they would take down the Trump campaign’s ads about the Census."
  • There are reports in NJ and PA of "Republican National Committee surveys that look like official census forms were mailed out in the Philly suburbs and at least as far north as Berks and Bucks counties." Same in LA and other parts of the country.
  • Closer to home, the Daily Tar Heel reports, "A Republican Party-sponsored fundraising mailer titled "Congressional District Census" has Orange County officials and census activists questioning if it will lower the census' completion rate."

In addition to these clearly political and fake attempts at confusion, the US Census Bureau sends a number of "household surveys" at various times, including the annual American Community Survey. You may receive one of these surveys now and then - they are NOT the official census.

More tips on avoiding census scams and fraud from AARP and 2020 Census.

Federal: 2020 Census, US Census Bureau
NC: Make NC Count, NC Counts Coalition

Let's MAKE NC COUNT IN 2020!


Tags: (2020 census, NCPol)

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