Pictured: Census takers, called enumerators, interview residents who haven’t responded to the census and drop off questionnaires (in select areas).

April 1, 2020 is National Census Day. The April 1 Census Day is not a deadline. Rather, when citizens do respond to the census, they are expected to tell the United States Census Bureau where they reside as of April 1. The actual deadline for responding to the census typically falls at the end of July, however the Census Bureau announced on Friday, March 20, that it would delay this year’s deadline to mid-August due to the disruption of the COVID-19 virus.  Census takers, called enumerators, will come to you house this summer to complete the Census, if you do not complete the Census online, by phone, or by mail.

As of March 29, the response rate for the Eastern Shore is 17.8% of households answering the Census.  The statewide response rate is 38.7%.  This indicates that the Eastern Shore is currently undercounted.  In the future, the Shore will be under served by federal dollars because the population of the Eastern Shore will not represent the actual number of people that live here.

By April 1, every home should receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census. On the Eastern Shore of Virginia, however, many people did not receive an invitation in the mail.  The invitations are being mailed to physical addresses, not to post office boxes, which is where most Shore residents receive their mail.  Households can still respond in one of three ways: online, by phone, or by mail.

Some households have received the short form in the mail, but most receive a letter with a 12-digit code to start the Census questionnaire online.  You do not need this code to complete the Census.  You can simply enter your physical address.  Forms are not available to be picked up at any location.

The national Census is mandated in the U.S. Constitution every ten years and it is everyone’s civic duty to complete the questionnaire.  Data from the Census is used to allocate federal funding to local government, social services, schools, libraries, and many other agencies.  The information you enter into the questionnaire is completely confidential and, by law, is not shared with any other government agency.  It is estimated that the Shore will receive over $20,000 per person over the next ten years.  Every person counts in the Census.

To complete the Census, go to 2020Census.gov or call (844) 330-2020.