By: Chad Kinsella, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Ball State University—
Muncie, IN—During this difficult time, many people are looking for ways to help. Perhaps one of these easiest ways to impact our community right now is to complete the U.S. Census. A few minutes of your time will ensure that our community receives proper funding from the Federal government; that we are represented equally at every level of government; and that research on our community is accurate for the next decade.
Every ten years, as mandated by the U.S. Constitution (Article 1, Section 2), the U.S. Census Bureau literally counts everyone that lives in the United States and its territories on April 1, 2020. It is a snapshot in time. Not only are you required to respond, but responding is in your and your community’s best interest.
The census is ten questions and should take just a few minutes to complete. All information is confidential and protected by Federal law. Answers can only be used to produce statistics. Identifiable information cannot be shared with other agencies, even law enforcement.
The census is important for many reasons. First, an accurate census count is crucial to ensure that you are represented in local, state, and federal government. The count determines the number of House of Representatives seats and number of Electoral College votes that are given to each state. Exactly where people live in the state influences congressional districts, state legislative districts, and even city council districts.
Second, an accurate census count ensures that our community receives its share of $860 billion dollars distributed by the Federal government for things like Medicaid, Medicare, highway funding, PELL Grants, school lunches, SNAP, TANF, and a host of other federal programs. Your response to the census helps to ensure that your community receives the public services it needs.
Finally, researchers in government and universities use census data for all kinds of critical social research to better understand and assist certain populations across the country.
The current census will influence funding and policy decisions until 2030. It is vital that East Central Indiana residents participate.
How can you help?
- Make sure that you and every person in your household is counted. This includes babies, children, and the elderly. The online form is available at https://my2020census.gov. Or you can call to complete the census over the phone.
- Encourage family, friends, and neighbors to complete the census. Share with them that not only is it required by law, it does a lot to help their communities.
- Share about the importance of the census on social media. Search #2020census for images and posts or share your own reasons for completing the census.
- Do you know a college student that lives off-campus? Make sure they know that they should complete the census for where they live during the school year. Ball State students, for example, should report that they live in Muncie and Delaware County. Students that live in residence halls are counted in a different way and do not need to complete an individual census form.
Special thanks to the Community Foundation of Muncie and Delaware County for convening the Muncie and Delaware County Census Council to promote and encourage all residents to participate in the 2020 Census.
About the author
Chad Kinsella, Ph.D., joined the Ball State Department of Political Science in Fall 2016. His teaching focuses on state and local government and public administration. His research focuses primarily on electoral geography, but he also examines state and local government, federalism, and pedagogy. Dr. Kinsella presents and moderates at the Bowen Institute for Political Participation and assists in analyzing and distributing information from the Hoosier Survey. He resides with his family in downtown Muncie.