It Counts To Be Counted

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In 1787, the men who framed the United States Constitution agreed that the growing new country needed congressional representation. They wrote into the Constitution that everyone must be counted every 10 years, and that one elected person would represent up to 30,000 people per state in Congress. Well, fast-forward 233 years, and that number has grown to one representative for 747,000 persons, and there are now 435 seats in the House of Representatives. This year marks the 24th time our country has conducted a census.

You might wonder who will be counted for the census. Everyone who has an established residence in the United States is counted. This will include all United States citizens, individuals with work visas, international students, and unauthorized immigrants. Temporary visitors, such as tourists, will not be counted. Yes, the United States government wants to count everyone. The Census Bureau has assured the American public that the information being gathered will remain confidential and will be used only for statistical data. By law, this data cannot be shared with any law enforcement agency.

The new census numbers will show population shifts. Congressional and state legislative districts can now be adjusted to reflect the changing population. Potentially, congressional districts will adjust, and new congressional lines will be drawn. Hopefully the new districts will follow natural boundaries more than politically beneficial congressional districts. By doing so, the issue of gerrymandering potentially could end.

In addition to the legislative requirements, the census will also provide federal funding to states for every person counted. You are worth $18,250 over the next 10 years in federal funds to the State of Maryland. This money will go to hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads and other resources. State budgets are adjusted according to the amount of money that is distributed due to the census numbers. If people do not respond, the data may reduce the amount of funding that is giving to a community, or under-allocate elected representatives. On the local level, the census will show the impact that housing developments could have on an established community. It is a good indicator of traffic congestion, retail development and the number of students enrolled in our local schools. It’s important to be counted.

The census should have been delivered to your house between March 12 and 20, with April 1 being Census Day in America. You can complete your form online (see the link provided below), by phone or by mail. Your data will be secure. Federal law protects all the information you provide when answering census questions. This material is secure for 72 years and cannot be released by the Library of Congress until April of 2092.

You’ve heard census ads on TV and radio. You’ve received census notification in the mail. Now it’s your turn to take the time to fill out the census form and be counted. If you haven’t received it in the mail or have any questions pertaining to the process, please refer to this website: 2020census.gov/en.html. That site also has an interesting interactive map that shows the percentage rate of response by state if you want to see how Maryland is doing. If I can be of any help to you, please email me at edward.reilly@senate.state.md.us or call me at 410-841-3568.

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