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2020 Census


It's time for the 2020 Census! Mid-Continent Public Library encourages all of its customers to participate in this important event.

This year, for the first time ever, households can complete the Census online. Also, if you prefer, the Census can be completed by phone, or by returning the paper form received at your home through the mail.

If you have received your Census post card and are ready to respond to the Census using the number indicated on it, go to to complete online or for instructions on how to respond by phone.

Answers to many frequently asked questions are below.

For complete information, visit the 2020 Census website for more information.

Attached is an example of the questionnaire all households will be asked to complete.

Why do we have a census?

The Constitution mandates a population count once every 10 years. The Census started in 1790, and this year’s Census will shape how political power and federal tax dollars are shared in the U.S over the next 10 years. The number of congressional seats and Electoral College votes each state gets are determined by Census numbers. They also guide how an estimated $880 billion a year in federal funding is distributed for schools, roads, and other public services in local communities. The demographic data are used by businesses to determine, for example, where to build new supermarkets, and by emergency responders to locate injured people after natural disasters.

Who fills out the census?

The Census Bureau includes every person living in the U.S.—regardless of age, citizenship, or immigration status. International visitors on vacation or work trips to the U.S. during the census are not included. All residents, including infants, are counted at the address where they usually live and sleep.

How do I respond to the 2020 census?

You can respond to the Census in one of three ways

  • Online: For the first time in history, there will be the option to fill out the Census online.

  • On the phone: Toll-free 800 numbers will be available to complete the Census over the phone in one of 12 non-English languages.

  • In writing: Paper forms will be mailed in April 2020 to households who have not already completed the Census online or by phone.


Mid-March 2020: An invitation to respond to the Census online will be sent to every residence sometime between March 12-20, 2020.

End of March 2020: A reminder letter and a reminder postcard will both be sent out at the end of March to the beginning of April.

Beginning of April 2020: If you still haven't responded and completed the Census, a reminder letter AND a paper questionnaire will be sent between April 8-16.

End of April 2020: A final reminder is sent between April 20-27 before a Census employee comes out in person to addresses that have not responded.

What questions will be on the census?

The 2020 Census is easy. You will answer a simple questionnaire about yourself and everyone who is living with you on April 1, 2020. The initial questions include:

  • How many people are living the home on April 1, 2020?
  • Any additional people staying in the home on April 1, 2020?
  • Is the home owned or rented?
  • What is your phone number?

And for each person in the home:

  • Name
  • Gender
  • Age and Date of Birth 
  • Ethnic origin
  • Race 
  • Relationship to the first person listed (spouse, child, renter, parent, roommate, etc.)

For more information about the planned questions and why the questions are being asked, check out the Questions Planned for the 2020 Census and American Community Survey.

What if I don't want to answer all of the questions?

Everyone living in the United States and its territories is required by law to be counted.

You can skip questions, submit an incomplete census form, and still be included in the head count. But you can be fined for refusing to answer a census question or intentionally giving a false answer, although the penalty has rarely been enforced in the past. Returning a partially filled-out questionnaire will result in a follow-up phone call or visit from a census worker.

Why should I respond to the census?

The Census collects data that will help states, counties, and communities determine:

  • Representation: The number of seats a state has in the U.S. House of Representatives, and are used to draw the districts for congressional and state government.
  • Funding: How to distribute approximately $880 billion in federal funding to local communities yearly.
  • Planning: The creation and upkeep of local services such as roads, schools, hospitals, senior centers, emergency services, and libraries.
  • Businesses: The creation of factories, business headquarters, and stores, as well as the ability to recruit employees and conduct market research.

If there is not a full count of all residents in 2020, it could result in the loss of $31 million in the Kansas City region of Missouri for 16 federal programs in Missouri:

  • Cass County—$2,130,501
  • Clay County—$5,243,883
  • Jackson County—$20,555,355
  • Lafayette County—$657,105
  • Platte County—$2,154,564
  • Ray County—$451,644

Should I be worried that my answers could be shared with other people or agencies?

The U.S. Census Bureau is bound by Title 13 of the U.S. Code to protect your answers and keep them strictly confidential. Every employee takes an oath to protect your personal information for life. Under Title 13, the Census cannot release any identifiable information about you, your home, or your business, even to law enforcement agencies. The law ensures that your private data is protected and that your answers cannot be used against you by any government agency or court.

How do I verify that I'm responding to a legitimate census request?

It is important to know that during the 2020 Census, the Census Bureau will never ask for:

  • Your Social Security number
  • Money or donations
  • Anything on behalf of a political party
  • Your bank or credit card numbers

If you receive mail about the Census:

Check that the return address is Jeffersonville, Indiana

If you continue to question the authenticity of the letter or form call the Regional Office for your state to verify the household survey. For business surveys, please visit the Census Bureau Business Help Site or contact the National Processing Center.

If someone calls your household to complete a survey:

Call the National Processing Center to verify the caller is a Census Bureau employee

Please review the Census Bureau’s alphabetical list of All Surveys

If someone visits your residence to complete a survey:

Check first for a valid U.S. Census Bureau ID badge

If you are still unsure then call the Regional Office for your state to verify you are in a legitimate survey and the visitor is a Census Bureau employee.

If you get an email and think it is bogus:

Do not reply, do not click on any links, and do not open any attachments.

Forward the email or website URL to the Census Bureau at

Delete the message. The Census Bureau will investigate and notify you of the findings.

Who to contact

Missouri Residents

Chicago Regional Office
Phone: 1-800-865-6384
Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m.—5:00 p.m., Central Daylight Time 

Kansas Residents

Denver Regional Office
Phone: 1-800-852-6159.
Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m.—4:30 p.m., Mountain Standard Time 

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