Updated: Dec 15, 2020
2020 isn’t just an important year due to the 2020 elections, but it’s also a special year due to the 2020 census as well. While some people may view the census as just another survey, or maybe even as a hassle, the census collects extremely important data which is used in a variety of different ways and to make extremely important decisions that affect all of us, making it vital not only for our democracy, but also for our everyday lives. Civic Engagement Nonprofit St Paul MN Here are some of the ways that the census affects representation and information on how having representation (or not having representation) affects everyone, and specifically minorities/women of color:
How The Census Affects Representation In Congress:
One of the reasons why participation in the census is so important is because it has an impact on each individual state’s representation in congress. There are 435 seats in the House of Representatives, and the number of seats each state gets is determined by the population of that state, with every state having at least 1 representative in the House of Representatives. Therefore, if a state’s population decreases by a certain amount, that state could potentially lose one of its seats in the House of Representatives. Likewise, if a state’s population increases, it could potentially gain another seat in the House of Representations as well. That’s why it’s important for every state to have everyone who lives in that state fill out the census every 10 years, because the population numbers that the census records will have a major impact on our democracy and on each state’s representation in Congress for the next 10 years.
How The Census Affects Women & Minorities:
Similar to how the census determines the number of representatives each state has in the House of Representatives every 10 years, the numbers recorded by the census are also used for determining and allocating funds for many different types of federal programs, including those that pertain to education, housing, and healthcare. Therefore, accurate census reporting is essential in order to ensure that no groups of people--especially those who are in need and require as much support as possible--are being undercounted and therefore underrepresented and under-supported.
The census is often used in order to determine how annual federal assistance is used and allocated, which is why it’s important to get an accurate head-count of everyone who is living in the United States so that federal funds can be distributed more equally and fairly among the communities living in the U.S. However, unfortunately, black families, immigrant families, women living in poverty or experiencing homelessness, victims and survivors of domestic violence, and other marginalized groups tend to be undercounted in the census, and therefore are underrepresented and don’t get the full support they need.
Full participation in the 2020 census is absolutely essential in order to ensure that all communities and groups of people are being accurately represented both in our democracy and when it comes to the distribution of federal funds and assistance for essential programs that many individuals and communities heavily rely on, including Medicaid, Medicare, the National School Lunch Program, the Special Supplemental Program for Women, Infants, and Children, Section 8 Housing Choice vouchers, special education grants, federal pell grants, and much more.
The data collected by the census is also used by several programs to better help those in need, including the Violence Against Women Act, the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act, and many more which primarily affect women and particularly women of color. To learn more about how the census affects representation in our democracy and beyond, feel free to reach out to Ayada Leads, your local civic engagement nonprofit in the Twin Cities MN.
If you’re interested in learning more about politics and civic engagement, or are thinking about running for office, feel free to contact us today, or click here for more information about the programs and events we offer.
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