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Nellis Airmen receive simplified 2020 Census process

Woman fills out census form.

A simulated census responder fills out a self-response paper questionnaire in Province, Rhode Island, February 2018. 2020 will be the first year the U.S. Census Bureau allows self-responding online. (Courtesy photo by U.S. Census Bureau)

Man handing papers to someone.

A U.S. Census Bureau employee simulates a nonresponse follow-up interview in Houston, Texas, February 2016. If people have not responded to the census in a certain amount of time, the Census Bureau will follow up in person. (Courtesy photo by U.S. Census Bureau)

Man observes data on his computer.

A Census Bureau employee performs office operations in Glendale, California, March 2016. The Census Bureau is recruiting thousands of people across the country to assist with the 2020 Census count. (Courtesy photo by U.S. Census Bureau)

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. --

Over the course of this coming spring, people across the United States will be responding to the 2020 Census.

Conducted every 10 years, the census determines how many people live in the United States and where they are located. April 1, 2020 is Census Day and the information people provide in their responses should reflect their living situation on that exact day.

“We go to extraordinary lengths to ensure everyone is counted once, only once and in the right place,” said Misty Slater, a U.S. Census Bureau media specialist. “The count includes everyone who is living in the United States as of April 1, 2020, to include children, infants, military members and people experiencing homelessness.”

In the past, Nellis Air Force Base has had low response rates, despite the importance of participation. Everyone’s responses are crucial because the census has a massive impact on local communities and determines people’s political representation.

“This census count will help determine the distribution of more than $675 billion to the states and local communities over the next 10 years,” said Slater. “The census data is also used for congressional apportionment and redistricting.”

The census data benefits everyone, so it’s important everyone participate. The difficulties in getting an accurate count of Nellis AFB stem from military members and their families being routinely on-the-go, relocating both temporarily and permanently.

“Some groups are historically undercounted,” said Slater. “Research has shown that people who are renters, non-English speakers, children, low-income or those who frequently change residencies are more likely to be missed in the census.”

Fortunately, the Census Bureau has strategies in place to simplify the process for military members in unique living situations.

“We have military liaisons that send us a point-of-contact for every base,” said Slater. “The points-of-contact provide our clerks the number of residents in each dormitory and help Census Bureau employees gain access to the base.”

They also have a new method of counting overseas service members for the 2020 Census.

“If you’re deployed or assigned outside the United States, the Department of Defense will answer the survey for you,” said Slater. “That includes any dependents living overseas with you.”

In addition to the changes for military members, the Census Bureau has implemented a new way of submitting responses, making it easier to participate.

“Everyone will receive a questionnaire in the mail and can respond over the phone, through the mail, or online for the first time ever,” said Slater. “It is made to be as convenient as possible and will take about 10 minutes to complete.”

With the simplified processes in place, the Census Bureau hopes 2020 will be their most successful year. The completion of the census is a constitutional requirement and will ensure everyone is taken into account. So when that letter appears in the mailbox, make it a priority to fill it out, return it and be counted.

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