What is the Census?

This spring, every person in Douglas County has an opportunity to help give millions of dollars to our local communities.

April 1, 2020 is Census Day.  The census is a count of everyone in the United States–both citizens and non-citizens.  The U.S. Constitution requires a national census once every 10 years.  The census will tally city, state and national populations that will determine representation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In 2020, the Census Bureau will implement new technology to make it easier than ever to respond to the census. For the first time, you will be able to respond online, by phone, as well as by mail. The Census Bureau is building an accurate address list and automating field operations—all while keeping your information confidential and safe. Sample Questionnaire (PDF)

We’re all in this together!

Numerous volunteers, including co-chairs Craig Weinaug and Steven Maceli, have agreed to work together as part of the Complete Count Committee for Lawrence and Douglas County. These volunteers represent area organizations who will help share information to ensure that we get maximum participation in the 2020 Census. And, you don’t have to be on the Complete Count Committee to help. Feel free to share the information and downloadable resources you find here with friends and neighbors!

In March, households will receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census. You’ll have three options for responding: online, by phone, or by mail. Please respond to your Census questionnaire quickly.  By answering the questions, you can make a difference in your local community.  Your support can raise awareness of and encourage participation in this historic event.  With your help, the Census Bureau will continue to produce accurate data, which will directly affect the quality of life in our local community.  This is one clear example of how 10 minutes of your time can produce millions of benefits for your community.

Visit www.2020census.gov for more information and informational resources.  Fact Sheets    Hojas Informativas

More information and resources here:

Why Should You Participate?

It is estimated that over a ten-year period, $53,000 is lost in federal funding, per person, if an individual does not participate in the Census. What’s this money used for?

Every year, the federal government allocates more than $675 billion to states and communities based on Census Bureau data. In Douglas County, that equates to over $180 million in grants that support our local community. Census data is used to determine locations for retail stores, schools, hospitals, childcare centers, senior service centers, new housing developments and other community facilities. Census data provides funding for highways, local transit, school lunch programs, grants for home rehabilitation and education programs that keep our schools drug free. Please do your part to make sure Lawrence is completely counted!  Cómo el Censo del 2020 invitará a todos a responder

Why does student participation matter?

Since we are a university community, it is important that college students know that they count here in Douglas County. Whether they are living on campus or in off-campus housing they will be counted at school facilities or at their off-campus housing, even if they visit home on holidays and breaks. If students commute, they will be counted at their usual residence. Counting College Students (PDF)

Is the Census confidential?

Yes. The information you provide to the Census is kept completely confidential.  No person, government agency or business has access to your individual information. From May through June, a Census representative may visit your home to collect information.  Census workers will clearly identify themselves as representatives of the Census and will be able to provide you with their identification.  2020 Census and Confidentiality   El Censo del 2020 y la Confidencialidad

Avoiding Fraudulent Activity and Scams


  • What is the 2020 U.S. Census?
  • The U.S. Census is a count of everyone in the United States, conducted every 10 years.
  • When will I complete the 2020 U.S. Census?
  • The next census will take place in 2020. Beginning in mid-March, people will receive a notice in the mail to complete the 2020 Census. Once you receive it, you can respond online. In May, the U.S. Census Bureau will begin following up in person with households that haven’t responded to the census. How the 2020 Census will invite everyone to respond
  • Why is it important to me?
  • Responding to the census is not only your civic duty; it also affects the amount of funding your community receives, how your community plans for the future, and your representation in government. Specifically, data from the 2020 Census are used to:
    •Ensure public services and funding for schools, hospitals, and fire departments.
    •Plan new homes and businesses and improve neighborhoods.
    •Determine how many seats your state is allocated in the House of Representatives.
  • How can I respond?
  • In 2020, for the first time ever, the U.S. Census Bureau will accept responses online, but you can still respond by phone or mail if you prefer. Responding should take less time than it takes to finish your morning coffee.
  • Who should fill out the Census form?
  • The individual in whose name the housing unit is owned or rented should complete the Census form on behalf of every person living in the residence, including relatives and non–relatives. The form is a simple one-page, 10-question form that will take less than 10 minutes to complete. It asks for information about the number of people living in your household, and their age, race, and gender.
  • What information will be requested?
  • The census will collect basic information about the people living in your household. When completing the census, you should count everyone who is living in your household on April 1, 2020.
  • What information will NOT be requested?
  • The Census Bureau will never ask for:
    •Social Security numbers.
    •Bank or credit card account numbers.
    •Money or donations.
    •Anything on behalf of a political party.
  • Will my information be kept confidential?
  • Strict federal law protects your census responses. It is against the law for any Census Bureau employee to disclose or publish any census information that identifies an individual. Census Bureau employees take a lifelong pledge of confidentiality to handle data responsibly and keep respondents’ information private. The penalty for wrongful disclosure is a fine of up to $250,000 or imprisonment for up to 5 years, or both. No law enforcement agency (not the DHS, ICE, FBI, or CIA) can access or use your personal information at any time. Data collected can only be used for statistical purposes that help inform important decisions, including how much federal funding your community receives.  The Census Bureau has a robust cybersecurity program that incorporates industry best practices and federal security standards for encrypting data.
  • Can I fill out the Census form online?
  • Yes. In 2020, for the first time ever, the U.S. Census Bureau will accept responses online, but you can still respond by phone or mail if you prefer. Responding should take less time than it takes to finish your morning coffee.
  • The Lawrence Public Library offers free computer use and internet access for people who want to fill out their census information online.
  • https://lplks.org/How do I get a form in a different language?
  • For the 2020 Census, the U.S. Census Bureau plans to provide the Internet Self-Response Instrument and Census Questionnaire Assistance in 12 non-English languages; enumerator instrument, bilingual paper questionnaire, bilingual mailing, and field enumeration materials in Spanish; and language guides, language glossaries, and language identification card in 59 non-English languages. Language Guides
  • Do I have to take part in the 2020 Census?
  • If you live in the United States, you are required by law to participate in the 2020 count, even if you recently completed another survey from the Census Bureau. A complete and accurate count is critical, as the results of the 2020 Census will affect congressional representation, community funding, and more.
  • What if I provide false information?
  • According to Title 13, Chapter 7, Subtitle 2, anyone who willfully gives an answer that is false could be fined up to $500.
  • What if I don’t have a permanent address?
  • You should be counted where you live and sleep most of the time. These residence rules serve as the guiding principle for the census, whether you are living with relatives because of a natural disaster or foreclosure, or are a college student living away from home, or a soldier living on a military base.
  • How does the Census Bureau count people without a permanent residence?
  • Census Bureau workers undertake extensive operations to take in-person counts of people living in group quarters, such as college dormitories, military barracks, nursing homes, and shelters, as well as those who have been displaced by natural disasters.
  • What if I don’t have a home?
  • At the Census Bureau we understand that these can be challenging times for many people. Because of this, we created the Service Based Enumeration (SBE) operation. The SBE is designed to provide an opportunity for people experiencing some form of displacement or lack of permanent address to be included in the census, by counting them at service-based locations, such as homeless shelters, soup kitchens, etc. The Be Counted form is another way people can take part in the census. Be Counted forms are census forms that are available at various community locations for use by people who either did not receive a census form in the mail or who believe they were not otherwise included on any other census form.
  • How can I get help with completing the form?
  • Language assistance guides are available in 59 languages. Questionnaire Assistance Centers (QAC) will also assist those unable to read or understand the form. A Teletext Device for the Deaf (TDD) program will help persons with hearing disabilities.
  • What is a Census Taker?
  • By being counted you are standing up for what your community’s needs are. That’s why census takers are so important. A census taker is a person from your community who is hired by the Census Bureau to make sure that your neighborhood gets represented as accurately as possible. The census taker’s primary responsibility is to collect census information from residences that have not responded to the 2020 census questionnaire. If no one answers at a particular residence, a census taker will visit that home up to three times, each time leaving a door hanger featuring a phone number; residents can call the number on the hanger to schedule the visit. The census taker will ONLY ask the questions that appear on the census form. Your privacy and confidentiality is our priority. The census taker who collects your information is sworn for life to protect your data under Federal Law Title 13. Those who violate the oath face criminal penalties: Under federal law, the penalty for unlawful disclosure is a fine of up to $250,000 or imprisonment for up to 5 years, or both.
  • Do I have to talk to the Census Taker?
  • Yes. Your participation in the 2020 Census is vital and required by law, (Section 221, of Title 13 of the U.S, Code). However, rather than rely on criminal charges, the Census Bureau is very successful in getting participation by explaining the importance of the questions we ask and how the information benefits our communities.
    Your privacy and confidentiality is our priority. The census taker who collects your information is sworn for life to protect your data under Federal Law Title 13. Those who violate the oath face criminal penalties: Under federal law, the penalty for unlawful disclosure is a fine of up to $250,000 or imprisonment for up to 5 years, or both.
  • Why does the Census want our names?
  • The Census requests names to help ensure people are not counted twice and to allow you, and only you, the right to obtain a record from the Census Bureau at a later time for proving age or citizenship.
  • Why does the Census Bureau ask about race and Hispanic origin?
  • The Census Bureau collects race data in accordance with guidelines provided by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. Information on race is required for many federal programs and is used to assess health and environmental risks associated with specific race and ethnic groups.
  • Does the Census Bureau share information with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Internal Revenue Service, courts or police?
  • No. It is against the law for the Census Bureau to give personally identifiable information about an individual to any other individual or agency until 72 years after it is collected for the decennial Census.
  • Who decides what questions will be asked?
  • The United States Congress approves the form and all procedures for the Census.
  • Why does the census taker visit my home more than once?
  • Census takers visit local homes up to three times to record resident information for 2020 Census. The census taker leaves a door hanger, featuring a phone number, each time, if the residents they’re trying to reach aren’t home. Residents can then call the number to schedule the visit. In addition, quality checks to ensure that census procedures are working and census staff is doing their job will require that some households be visited more than once.