CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Now through October 18, census workers will be going door-to-door across the area as they prepare for the 2020 United States Census. Officials say you can expect those door knocks mainly in the evening or over the weekend.
“We want to make sure we have the correct address for everybody, so that’s why we’re going to people’s homes,” said Astrid Chirinos, who sits on the Mecklenburg Complete Count Committee.
Chirinos says residents have no reason to be alarmed. She says address canvassing is the first major field operation of the 2020 census, where workers simply confirm addresses and the number of people living in the home.
She says responses are confidential and protected by federal law.
“The last time we missed people. We, unfortunately, missed children, we missed seniors, you know some populations that are hard to count...immigrants,” she said.
Miscounting people could mean missing out on vital funding.
Data from the census, done just once every 10 years, provide the basis for distributing more than $675 billion in federal funds annually to communities across the country to support vital programs — impacting housing, education, transportation, employment, health care, and public policy.
For example, North Carolina received more than $2.3 billion in fiscal year 2016 for programs for students in pre-k through college, and $2 billion in highway funding and transit grants, according to the Mecklenburg Complete Counts Committee.
The data is also used to redraw the boundaries of congressional and state legislative districts and accurately determine the number of congressional seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives.
So how can you verify that the person knocking on your door is actually a census worker?
To help identify address listers, officials say employees will have badges and briefcases indicating their affiliation with the Census Bureau. They are supposed to knock on doors and ask a few simple questions to verify the address and any additional living quarters on the property for inclusion in the census.
They say employees will also introduce themselves as a Census Bureau employee, show their official government ID badge, and explain the purpose of the visit, according to Census.gov.
The Census Bureau says they will never ask for Social Security numbers, bank or credit card account numbers, money or donations, or anything on behalf of a political party.
The official census tally is expected to begin in March 2020 and for the first time ever, the U.S. Census Bureau will accept responses online.