Students should report for the census

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Students should report for the census

By Madelyn Amos

Once every decade, we have the opportunity to strengthen our democracy and, as a result, our voice in government, by reporting for the census. The United States Census results in the allocation of about $800 billion in federal funding and the distribution of congressional seats to states.

Unfortunately, civic engagement in Illinois has been declining as past voter registration rates and census reporting rates lag behind the rest of the country. However, in March 2020, we have the chance to revitalize Illinois’ representation in our government.

Accurate census reporting is essential as states use census data to redraw legislative and school district lines and determine congressional representation. Undercounted areas will be underfunded and underrepresented, possibly resulting in Illinois losing two U.S. House seats. Vital community resources that fund local services, such as emergency response teams and fire departments as well as Medicare and SNAP, could also be lost. This population misreporting would not be able to be rectified for another 10 years.

Reporting for the census is a quick and easy process. Starting March 12, online codes will be sent out to each household so you can report online, by mail or over the phone up until April 1. Questions regarding citizenship will not be included in the survey, and all personal information gathered from the census is confidential by law and cannot be shared with anyone, including federal, state and local agencies.

Let’s all take this vital step to increase our representation in government and protect funding for the programs and services we all rely on and report for the 2020 census.

Madelyn is a member of the Illinois Public Interest Research Group.

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