by Melanie Jongsma
LANSING, Ill. (August 1, 2020) – The Lansing Journal began reporting on Census 2020 back in November of 2019 when Lansing formed its Complete Count Committee to help ensure full participation in the census. (See Lansing prepares for Census 2020, November 10, 2019, article.) Since that time we have posted an estimated 60 articles about the 2020 Census, letting people know what to expect, how to participate, how participation impacts a community, and ways the Complete Count Committee has been getting the word out in Lansing. We have also run a variety of Census 2020 ads on this site and in our printed paper, hoping to increase awareness and participation.
Behind the scenes The Lansing Journal has had conversations with HiGeorge, a data visualization company that helps news publishers by developing interactive charts and graphics.
The 2020 Census is one of the topics HiGeorge is particularly interested in, so they created a new visual with data specific to Lansing:
And the visual below shows census rates by counties in Illinois, highlighting Cook County and Lansing info in the boxes at the top:
A few weeks ago the US Census Bureau reported that census takers would be visiting neighborhoods in July to follow up with people who have not yet completed the 2020 Census. These workers would have been out earlier, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced a change in the timeline.
It was hoped that as families were spending more time online during quarantine, taking the census might be one of the tasks they addressed, making in-person visits unnecessary. In fact, the Homewood-Flossmoor Chronicle (sign up for their daily email here) was running a “Save the Census Workers” ad campaign for a while, encouraging residents to take the census online so that census takers would not have to endanger their health and visit homes in person.
These census takers have been sighted in Lansing. They are local people whose goal is to ensure that no one is forgotten in the 2020 Census. They wear masks and follow all public health guidelines—in fact, census takers completed a virtual COVID-19 training before being sent into neighborhoods.
If no one is home when the census taker visits, a notice is left that provides information about how to respond online, by phone, or by mail.
All census takers carry an official ID bade that bears their photograph, a US Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date—if someone knocks on your door and claims to be from the US Census Bureau, ask to see this badge. Census workers might also carry US Census Bureau bags and other equipment with the Census Bureau logo.
For people who feel overlooked by local government or even state and federal administrations, the census is a way to make your presence known. Grant monies are allocated based on census results, business decisions are made based on census results, and hospitals, playgrounds, and senior centers are built based on census results.
For people who fear that taking the census will somehow lead to trouble with a landlord, the police, or the government, the US Census Bureau offers this assurance:
The Census Bureau is bound by Title 13 of the US Code to keep your information confidential.
This law protects your answers to the 2020 Census. 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. Violating Title 13 is a federal crime, punishable by prison time and/or a fine of up to $250,000.
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.
For people who aren’t comfortable with technology, the US Census Bureau offers a variety of ways to take the census:
- By phone. Call 844-330-2020 to begin in English, or click the “By phone” link above to find other phone numbers for other languages.
- By mail. If you still have the form that was mailed to your address in April, you can still fill it out and mail it in.
- Online. If you want to take the census online, you need to do it all in one sitting—there is no way to save your work and come back to finish it later. The online census form is available in multiple languages, including:
- In person. Trained representatives will be knocking on doors in Lansing to give non-responders an opportunity to participate in Census 2020. Remember to ask for ID before speaking with them.
When Lansing’s Complete Count Committee took on their assignment last November, they set a goal of engaging more than 90% of Lansing residents in the 2020 Census. COVID-19 and the resulting quarantine derailed all of the events and gatherings where the committee had planned to have a presence, as well as their own plans for large-group “Census Celebrations.” As of this writing, Lansing’s participation rate is higher than the state average, but lower than several of our surrounding communities.
Lansing Journal readers tend to be engaged and involved, so it’s possible that everyone reading this article has already participated in Census 2020.
It’s also possible that you have people within your own social networks who have not yet taken the census. If that’s the case, visit this 2020 Census link, and use the social share buttons to reach your networks with an invitation to be counted:
- Responding online to Census 2020 (and social share links)