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Talking Points: 2020 Census

On this page, LWVUS will maintain updated talking points for all Leagues to speak with one voice about the 2020 Census. (Last updated July 2019)


Why it is critical to get the 2020 Census right:  

  • Getting an accurate count in the 2020 Census is critical to all communities within the United States.
  • Millions of people, including community groups, local officials, and businesses rely on the Census to provide accurate, comprehensive data about our nation that impacts us all:  
    • Census data is the basis for fair political representation, and this data is used to draw district lines reflective of the population.   
    • Community leaders use Census data to allocate resources, including public safety, planning and disaster response, education needs, hospitals, assistance for veterans, and transportation.
    • Business leaders use Census data to make investment decisions that boost economic growth.
  • We only get one chance every ten years to get this right. The Census must be done fairly and accurately.  

What is the League doing to ensure the most accurate count in the 2020 Census? 

  • The League has a three-phase plan around census: Education, Get-Out-The-Count, and Watchdog activities. 

  • In the months leading up to Census Day—April 1, 2020—Leagues around the country will be in communities sharing information and resources about how to participate and the importance of the U.S. Census.  

  • On Census Day, the League will work in coalition to help get everyone counted, are working in Complete Count Committees to share out information about low-reporting areas and communicate where additional support is needed.  

  • Once the Census count wraps up in the Summer of 2020, the League will remain in communities and will act as a watchdog for any issues from the ground.

Additional Background on the inclusion of a citizenship question:

On June 27, 2019 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a citizenship question in the U.S. Census report could not be included on the 2020 Census. The League of Women Voters of New York was one of several named organizational plaintiffs in the case Department of Commerce v. New York, and LWVUS filed a friend of the court brief in the case. In early July, the Census forms began printing without the citizenship question and the administration announced they would seek a citizenship count through existing government data, and not through the 2020 Census.  

Now that the issue of citizenship will not be a component of the 2020 Census, the League will be working to ensure the most complete possible census count, with a focus on hard-to-count communities.   

Why the actions to include a question about citizenship has harmed the Census?   

  • The Constitution says to count all persons – not all citizens.  

  • We know that the national conversation around citizenship for the Census was a scare tactic, designed to decrease participation among non-English speaking and immigrant communities. 

  • A citizenship question on the Census is not only unnecessary for the goals of counting population – but it is also invasive. The conversation has raised concerns about the confidentiality of personal information and caused distrust which will likely still impact participation.