The mission of the U.S. Census Bureau is to serve as the nation’s leading provider of quality data about the people of the United States and its economy – AND to provide population information for Congressional redistricting purposes. Every ten years, the bureau counts the population and 2020 is the year for the next count. The outcome of the census affects how many representatives you have in the U.S. House of Representatives for the next ten years. An accurate outcome is of high importance for this and many other reasons! So, how does it work?
April 1st is Census Day; The census counts each resident of the country, where they live on April 1, every ten years ending in zero. The Constitution mandates this enumeration in order to determine how to apportion the House of Representatives among the states. That’s a good idea since the U.S. population has a net gain of one person every 17 seconds! Apportionment is the process of dividing the seats in the House of Representatives among the 50 states based on population figures collected during the census. The number of seats in the House has grown with the country. The Constitution set the number of representatives at 105 for the census in 1790. In 1913, it was increased to 435. The apportionment process is somewhat complicated, but the desired outcome is not! The goal is for each Congressional district to have roughly the same number of people – that outcome constitutes equal representation for all which is the basis of our governmental system! After the 1790 census, each representative represented approximately 34,000 people; after the 2000 census, each representative represented 647,000 people! It should be clear that the census is an important tool in the empowerment of people in our democracy; it ensures equal representation for all!
Voters Rule Alert: The matter of whether to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 Census is before the Supreme Court right now. Those who oppose the addition of such a question believe that it will cause a significant number of people (mostly immigrants) to avoid the census thereby causing the data collected to be inaccurate. More to come.