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Have you answered the online 2020 Census?

The U.S. Census Bureau in early March sent out invitations to each residential address with a Census ID to respond by April 1, which happens to be Census Day.

Most people will receive if not already a mailer for you to complete the count online at my2020census.gov.

By responding online, you’re helping the Census Bureau conserve natural resources, save taxpayer money, and process data more efficiently.

The census is required by law. And, while your answers are kept completely confidential, you do not have to respond online. A paper questionnaire will be sent to complete and mail back.

If you don’t respond online or by mail, then, you’ll be getting a knock on the door from a Census Bureau interviewer.

Results will be used to direct billions of dollars in federal funds to local communities for schools, roads, and other public services. It will also help your community prepare to meet transportation and emergency readiness needs. And, the results will determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives and your political representation at all levels of government.

If you are curious about the questions, this helpful preview should guide you through the process online.

First, you will need the specific Census ID listed inside the mailer. You will be asked to populate boxes with that ID, if you are completing this online.

The first question that shows up asks if you are completing the 2020 Census questionnaire for the address below? (Your home address should be listed.)

You will mark Yes or No before the next question refreshes asking on April 1, 2020, will you be living or staying at that address? Again, it’s a yes or no response.

Then, a question asks what your name and telephone number is. It does ask for First, Middle and Last name(s) before you can move forward. The Census will only contact you if needed for the official Census Bureau business.

That’s the address verification section. Now, you move into the Household Questions where you will be asked some questions about your household.

The first question in this section asks: “Including yourself, how many people will be living or staying at your address on April 1, 2020?” A link to more information on who to include in that number is offered. Plugin the digits and move on to the next question.

The next question asks for the name of each person who will be living or staying at your address on April 1, 2020. You will simply populate the fields for first, middle and last name(s). A button marked +Add another person is where you click to include other names.

It’s important to include children, related or unrelated, such as newborn babies, grandchildren, or foster children. Relatives, adult children, nieces, nephews, cousins, or in-laws who stay with you at that address should be included.

Even if you are in an apartment and share it with a roommate or other nonrelative, include them. And, people without a permanent place to live who are at this home should be included.

On the next page that comes up, the Census will give you one more chance to show you who you’ve listed and asks will there be any ADDITIONAL people that you did not already list.

The next question asks, On April 1, 2020, will the house, apartment, or mobile home at the address be owned by you or someone in the household with a mortgage or loan, be free and clear without a mortgage or loan, rented, or occupied without payment of rent.

You then check the names of the people who will be living at said address on April 1, 2020, who own, will own, rent, or neither on the house, apartment or mobile home.

That’s all for the Household Questions. Now you continue your Census with the section labeled People Questions by selecting the Start button for each person you had listed.

It will ask the sex (male or female), date of birth. When you populate the year, the age populates into a box below that question and you must verify the correct age as of April 1, 2020.

The next question asks if that person is of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin.

The first option is No, not of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin. The second option is Yes, Mexican, Mexican American, Chicano. The third is Yes, Puerto Rican. The fourth is Yes, Cuban. The fifth is, Yes, another Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin with examples of Salvadoran, Dominican, Colombian, Guatemalan, Spaniard, Ecuadorian where you must type it in a box.

Then, a question regarding the person’s race is asked, however, specifics are required if you select White; Black or African American; and American Indian or Alaska Native; Other Asian; Other Pacific Islander; or Some other race.

For this census, Hispanic origins are not races, the screen reads. Other options that do not require a specific example: Chinese; Filipino; Asian Indian; Vietnamese; Korean; Japanese; Native Hawaiian; Samoan; Chamorro.

You answer questions for each person related to who you marked as owner/renter of the residence.

Some of the choices for that are Opposite-sex husband/wife/spouse; Opposite-sex unmarried partner; Same-sex husband/wife/spouse; Same-sex unmarried partner; Biological son or daughter; Adopted son or daughter; Stepson or stepdaughter; Brother or sister; Father or Mother; Grandchild; Parent-in-law; Son-in-law or daughter-in-law; Other relatives; Roommate or housemate; Foster child; Other nonrelative.

You then answer the same questions about sex, origin, and race.

Whew? Not so bad huh? It takes only a few minutes. Now, you’re onto the Final Question(s) section.

The Census wants to ensure everyone is only counted once. However, some people live or stay in more than one place. Examples are given, and a question asks do any of the following people, who you’ve listed, usually live or stay somewhere else, other than the address you are completing the census form.

You select all that apply. If you select a name, a second question will ask you to check the reason why that person lives or stays somewhere else. If none, then you’ll select None of the above.

Now, you are almost finished with the 2020 Census!

You do get the opportunity to go back during the questions if you happen to press next prematurely. And, you’ll get one final opportunity to edit your questionnaire before you submit. A confirmation page will pop up after you submit your responses.

Other mail may come from the Census Bureau about the 2020 Census in the next few weeks, which you may disregard as it may have mailed prior to you completing your part.

That’s it! You’re officially on the count. Until 2030, fellow Americans.


Written by Keith Wilson

A resident of St. Martin, Mississippi, Keith Wilson is a multimedia journalist and small business owner of Streetcar PR, which he began in 2013 while living in the New Orleans, Louisiana metro area.

As a 2004 graduate of the School of Mass Communication and Journalism at The University of Southern Mississippi, Keith earned a Bachelor of Arts in broadcast journalism. He also holds a Master of Arts in higher education student affairs from The University of Mississippi, where he graduated in 2007.

He is a multimedia journalist covering city government, tourism, casinos, features and human interest news through Streetcar PR and posts #yourlocalnews on his professional page: facebook.com/MMJkeithwilson. He also does freelance journalism for the Sun Herald.

Keith’s past media experience includes working as a multimedia journalist for The Biloxi-D’Iberville Press and a news content specialist and front desk operator at WLOX-TV. During his time with the weekly newspaper, the Mississippi Press Association honored Keith with multiple honors in its Better Newspapers Contest, including a third place Phillips Freedom of Information Award in 2017. He was most recently recognized as 2019 Media Partner of the Year by Mississippi Coast Crime Stoppers.

He is active as community leader across Coastal Mississippi, currently serving as president of the North Bay Civitan Club of D’Iberville-St. Martin and the D’Iberville Historical Society. He is a board member for Mississippi Coast Crime Stoppers and is the immediate past board president for the Mental Health Association of South Mississippi. Keith also served as vice president of public affairs for the Biloxi Bay Area Chamber of Commerce in 2018-2019. And he is a member of Hibernia Marching Society of South Mississippi.

In addition, Keith served seven years on the board for the Gulf Coast Metro Chapter of Southern Miss Alumni Association, and one year as a member of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community Leadership Council for the MS-AL Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

A four-time recipient of the outstanding club president recognition from the Magnolia District of Civitan International, Keith also was recognized as the City of Biloxi’s 2010 Outstanding Community Volunteer of the Year.


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