CSAC Bulletin Article

2020 Census Begins Next Week

January 19, 2020

The official start of the 2020 Census will take place on January 21 in Toksook Bay, Alaska. Census Director Steven Dillingham will conduct the ceremonial first counting in the village, where census takers get an early start counting while the ground is still frozen, making travel easier. However, most of the country will not begin receiving census mail until March. Beginning in mid-March, households can respond to the census online, by phone, or by mail.

The results of the census affect how billions of dollars are appropriated to state and local governments each year and provide the population information counties will use when they redraw their supervisorial districts ahead of the 2022 elections.

This week, the Census Bureau announced shared highlights of a $500 million public education and outreach campaign featuring more than 1,000 ads designed to reach 99 percent of households. The Bureau has already begun airing advertisements in 13 languages targeting multicultural and historically undercounted audiences.

To increase the number of participants, this year the Census will be available in 59 languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese, with American Sign Language and Braille options coming soon.  In addition, the Census Bureau has created several online tools to help in the Census process:

  • A toolkit to guide county leaders as they begin to plan for 2020 Census Response Rate Challenges in their respective counties,.
  • social hub that will make it easier for partners and community leaders to share content on their own social media and other digital channels.
  • quiz called “Who Counts On Your Census Form?” that explains who should be counted on the questionnaire, including some special circumstances.

Important Census Dates


  • January 21: The count officially begins in the rural Alaskan village of Toksook Bay.
  • March 12 – 20: Households will begin receiving official Census Bureau mail with detailed information on how to respond to the 2020 Census online, by phone, or by mail.  
  • March 30 – April 1: The Census Bureau will count people who are experiencing homelessness over these three days. As part of this process, the Census Bureau counts people in shelters, at soup kitchens and mobile food vans, on the streets, and at non-sheltered, outdoor locations such as tent encampments.
  • April 1: Census Day is observed nationwide. By this date, every home will receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census.
  • April: Census takers will begin visiting college students who live on campus, people living in senior centers, and others who live among large groups of people. Census takers also begin conducting quality check interviews to help ensure an accurate count.
  • May – July: Census takers will begin visiting homes that haven’t responded to the 2020 Census to help make sure everyone is counted.
  • December: The Census Bureau will deliver apportionment counts to the President and Congress as required by law.


  • March 31: By this date, the Census Bureau will send redistricting counts to states. This information is used to redraw legislative districts based on population changes.
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