The Census is a survey conducted to perform a national count of every person living in the country. Article I Section 2 of the Constitution mandates this survey of the country every ten years with the aim of determining representation in Congress for each state. Beginning in 1790, the 2020 Census will be the 24th in United States history. The Census is a massive undertaking, counting an increasingly diverse and growing population. Data collection occurs throughout the census year in order to ensure all people respond to the survey.
The census is integral to our democracy. The data collected affect our nation's ability to ensure equal representation and equal access to important governmental and private sector resources for all Americans, including across racial and ethnic lines. These functions depend on a fair and accurate census. The 2020 Census will provide up to date information on the demographic composition of the United States, and will have a wide impact on the voting landscape.
State and local funds are often distributed based on population, meaning that every person is important when advocating for funding. The strength of census statistics and data also helps inform many public policy proposals at all levels of government.
There are countless applications of Census data in both academic and commerical research, but there are four key functions of the Census that affect public policy and voting in the United States:
3. Demographic Data
4. Government Resource Allocation