Once a decade, America comes together to count every resident in the United States, creating national awareness of the importance of the census and its valuable statistics. The decennial census was first taken in 1790, as mandated by the U.S. ConstitutionOpens in New Window. It counts our population and households, providing the basis for reapportioning congressional seats Opens in New Window, redistricting, and distributing more than $675 billion in federal funds annually to support states, counties and communities. These funds affect vital programs – including housing, education, transportation, employment, health care and public policy.
The census counts everyone, regardless of citizenship.
- Everyone counts. The census counts every person living in the United States once, and only once, and in the right place. Anyone who lives in Volusia County more than six months a year must be counted in Volusia County; this applies to college students, snowbirds and other part-time residents.
- Your information is confidential. Federal law protects your census responses. Your answers can only be used to produce statistics. By law, the Census Bureau cannot share your information with immigration enforcement agencies or law enforcement agencies.
- It’s about redistricting. After each census, state officials use the results to redraw the boundaries of their congressional and state legislative districts, adapting to population shifts.
- It’s about fair representation. Every 10 years, the results of the census are used to reapportion the House of Representatives, determining how many seats each state gets. In 2010, Florida picked up two new house seats!
Federal funds, grants and support to states, counties and communities are based on population totals and breakdowns by sex, age, race and other factors. Our community benefits the most when the census counts everyone. People in our community use census data in all kinds of ways, such as these:
- Residents use the census to support community initiatives involving legislation, quality-of-life and consumer advocacy.
- Businesses use Census Bureau data to decide where to build factories, offices and stores, and these create jobs.
- Local government officials use the census to ensure public safety and plan new schools and hospitals.
- Real estate developers and city planners use the census to plan new homes and improve neighborhoods.
Download the 2020 Census Informational Questionnaire PDF Download to familiarize yourself with a sample form.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: When will I receive my census form?
A: In mid-March, every household in the United States will receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census. They will have the option of responding online, by phone or by mail. Residents are required by law to complete the forms by April 1.
Q: Where should I be counted?
A: People who live at two or more residences, such as people who travel seasonally between residences (for example, snowbirds or children in joint custody) are counted at the residence where they live and sleep most of the time. If usual residence cannot be determined, they are counted at the residence where they are staying on Thursday, April 1, 2020 (Census Day). Those staying in a shelter or living outdoors are counted where they are staying on April 1, 2020.
Q: What about college students?
A: College students living away from their parental home while attending college in the United States (living on-campus or off-campus) are counted at the on-campus or off-campus residence where they live and sleep most of the time. College students who are foreign citizens living in the United States while attending college are counted the same as above.
Q: Do kids count?
A: Yes! Parents should include all children living in their home – including non-relatives and children with no other place to live, even if they are only living there temporarily – on April 1, 2020. Parents should also include newborns who are still in the hospital. Children who split time between two homes should be counted at the home where they live and sleep most of the time. If the child spends equal amounts of time between two homes, count them where they stayed on April 1, 2020.
Q: What if I am away from my home on April 1, 2020?
A: People away from their usual residence on Census Day are counted at the residence where they live and sleep most of the time. This includes people who are on vacation or a business trip, traveling outside the U.S., or working elsewhere (for example, as a truck driver or traveling salesperson) without a usual residence there.
Q: How can I respond?
A: For the first time, respondents will be able to complete their forms online. The 2020 Census will still allow for traditional response methods such as phone and mail. Non-responses will be followed up with in-person canvassing.
Q: Why do we have a Census?
A: The U.S. Constitution mandates a headcount every 10 years of everyone residing in the United States: in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Island Areas. People of all ages, races, ethnic groups, citizens and noncitizens will be counted. The first census was conducted in 1790 and has been carried out every 10 years since then. The population totals from the 2020 Census will determine the number of seats each state has in the House of Representatives. States also use the totals to redraw their legislative districts. The totals also affect funding in your community, and data collected in the census help inform decision makers how your community is changing.
Q: Why does the Census Bureau ask the questions they do?
A: The information the Census Bureau collects helps determine how more than $675 billion of federal funding annually is spent on infrastructure and services. Your answers help federal, state and local leaders make decisions about schools, hospitals, emergency services, roads, bridges, job training centers, and many other projects that affect your community.
Q: What is the American Community Survey?
A: The American Community Survey (ACS) is part of the decennial census program. It collects more detailed information on housing, population and the economy. ACS data are collected continuously throughout the year and throughout the decade from a sample of the population (about 3 million addresses annually). Participation is mandatory by law, and the public’s participation is vital to provide data that impacts policy decisions on the local, state and federal levels.
Q: Are my answers safe and secure?
A: Your information is confidential. The Census Bureau collects data for statistical purposes only. They combine your responses with information from other households or businesses to produce statistics, which never identify your household, any person in your household, or business. They never identify you individually. Title 13 of the U.S. Code protects the confidentiality of all your information; violating this law is a crime with severe penalties. In addition, other federal laws, including the Confidential Statistical Efficiency Act and the Privacy Act, reinforce these protections. The penalty for unlawful disclosure is a fine of up to $250,000, imprisonment of up to 5 years, or both. It is against the law to disclose or publish names, addresses, Social Security numbers and telephone numbers.
Q: What is Volusia County doing?
A: Volusia County Government and partners have formed a Complete Count Committee to spread the word about the importance of completing the census form. For more information about local efforts, visit www.volusia.org/census.
Q: What happens if I don’t complete my form?
A: A census taker, who is employed by the U.S. Census Bureau, will visit the homes of persons who do not complete a census questionnaire. Persons who don’t answer all the questions on the form also may receive a knock on the door.
Q: How can I identify scams?
A: The Census Bureau will never ask for a complete Social Security number, money or donations, anything on behalf of a political party, your bank’s name or credit card numbers. When visiting a home, census workers must:
- Present an ID badge that contains a photograph, Department of Commerce watermark, and expiration date.
- Provide supervisor contact information and/or the regional office phone number for verification, if asked.
- Provide you with a letter from the Director of the U.S. Census Bureau on Census Bureau letterhead.
Q: When will the results be available?
A: The U.S. Census Bureau must submit state population totals to the President of the United States by December 31, 2020. Each state will receive local 2020 Census data on race and the voting age population no later than April 1, 2021. The U.S. Census Bureau will provide this data so state governments can redraw the boundaries of their U.S. Congressional and state legislative districts.