Article 1, Section 2 of the United States Constitution mandates that our country conduct a census every 10 years. That count matters for a variety of reasons, but most importantly, the census count determines the distribution of federal dollars to state and local governments and divides the seats among states in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Below are answers to some common questions.

I heard the census is online this year. Will I be required to answer online?
  • You are not required to answer online. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Murray County residents will receive an invitation to respond to the census online or over the phone along with a paper questionnaire. You choose how you prefer to respond. If you want to respond online, you can use your computer, tablet, or smartphone.
What questions will I have to answer?
  • One person in each household should respond to the census. That person will be known as Person 1. Person 1 will be asked his/her name, sex, age, date of birth, race, and whether he/she of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin. Person 1 will be asked to answer those same questions for every other person in the household, and to indicate each person’s relationship to Person 1.
 If the census is just a count, why are names collected?
  • Names and other information collected, such as date of birth, help eliminate extra records in case a person shows up more than once in the count.
Will someone come to my door?
  • No one will come to your door if respond to the census in a timely manner. Beginning in late March, reminder letters and postcards will be delivered to households who haven’t responded to the census and three subsequent reminders will be mailed out to those who still haven’t responded. Beginning in late April, census takers (“enumerators”) will follow-up in person with households that did not respond to the initial invitation and reminders.
Is my information safe?
  • Federal law requires the Census Bureau to keep your information confidential for 72 years. Until then, your responses can be used only to produce statistics. And federal law prohibits the sharing of your data with any government agency, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
How and where should snowbirds be counted?
  • In early March, the U.S. Census Bureau will send mail to households across the country, inviting residents to respond to the 2020 Census online or by phone. Snowbirds, take note: Census Bureau rules say you should be counted where you live and sleep most of the time. That means snowbirds who are away now, but live in Minnesota for most of the year, should be counted in Minnesota.

    How to respond online or by phone

    • Starting March 12, everyone can easily respond to the census online by visiting my2020census.gov, or over the phone by calling 844-330-2020.
    • Respondents will be asked for the Census ID printed on mail received from the Census Bureau, or for their address if they don’t have the ID. Each of these unique tracking codes will be tied to the address to which it is delivered.
    • Snowbirds should use the Census ID from mail delivered to their home in Minnesota, or enter their Minnesota address if they don’t have access to that ID. They should NOT use the Census ID from mail delivered to their winter home.

    How to respond in writing:

    • In mid-April, forms will be mailed to people who have not already responded. Snowbirds should complete the questionnaire delivered to them in Minnesota, NOT the one sent to their winter home.
    • If they use the form that’s delivered to their seasonal address, they could be counted as a resident at that address – even if they write their Minnesota address on the form.

There is a wealth of information available about the census. You can text specific questions to the Minnesota 2020 Census Help Desk at 662020. Better yet, check out these websites:

Please take the time to respond to the census. It is important that we all get counted so that we get the representation we are entitled to receive, and our communities get their fair share of federal funds.