The Census is Coming. Here’s What to Know.

2020 Census mail

By Jessica Swarner

March 9, 2020

State and local officials are working to spread the word about the Census, as an accurate count is important to receive adequate federal funding. 

Be on the lookout: Census officials say Arizonans can expect to receive instructions in the mail on how to fill out the Census starting this week.

According to iCount 2020, the Phoenix metro area’s census outreach campaign, people can participate in the Census either online or by phone as soon as this Thursday. Anyone who prefers to fill out the form and return it by mail can do so after April 8.

Officials across the country have been reminding their constituents that it’s important to get an accurate count, since the numbers determine how funding is allocated across 55 programs, including the National School Lunch Program and Federal Student Loans programs. 

The Census Bureau will also send households multiple reminders through April. In May, Census takers will begin canvassing the homes of people who have yet to turn in their forms. The U.S. Census Bureau needs all paperwork returned by the end of July to get a full count of the nation’s residents. 

For each person counted in Arizona, the state receives just under $3,000 from the federal government. Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said an estimated 50,000 Arizona children were left out of the last Census in 2010, causing the state to lose out on money. 

According to the Downtown Devil, Phoenix officials will be using nearly 2,500 TV commercials, 5,000 radio advertisements, 20 billboards, millions of spots on social media, and a wrapped light rail train to encourage Census participation. 

Banner Health, in coordination with the governor’s office, is also helping to spread the word by giving out 1,000 onesies to promote the Census.

In addition to funding, the Census count also affects how many lawmakers a state is allocated in the House of Representatives, as well as where buildings like businesses, schools, youth centers, and affordable housing units are located. Census data has resulted in Arizona gaining a new House seat every decade since 1960, and the state is expected to gain another after 2020.

Authorities have also been working to prevent the spread of misinformation that could affect people’s participation.

Census officials are reminding the public their employees are prohibited from sharing any respondents’ identifiable information, even with law enforcement and other government agencies. Anyone who violates that rule can face a fine of up to $250,000 and/or five years in prison.

The Census Bureau has also stressed that the form will not ask about citizenship, so undocumented residents can fill it out without having to worry about being arrested.

Officials hope that by setting the facts straight, people won’t be afraid of the form in the mail and will understand the importance of completing it.


  • Jessica Swarner

    Jessica Swarner is the community editor for The Copper Courier. She is an ASU alumna and previously worked at KTAR News 92.3 FM in Phoenix.



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