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Friday, June 7, 2019

Participating in 2020 Census is an important civic duty

By Steven J. Franzen, Campbell County Attorney

Once every ten years, a census counting every person living in the United States occurs as required by the U.S. Constitution.  The first census was in 1790 and the 2020 census conducted by the U.S. Department of Commerce will begin in April of 2020.

The census is an important tool in our democratic system and a civic duty of all citizens to take part.  Primarily, the census results are used to reapportion how many seats each state gets in the House of Representatives.  However, the census results and data are used for several other government and community functions as well.

The most important function is that the census data is used as a basis for how more than 675 billion dollars are spent, supporting the state, county and community’s vital programs.  State Officials use the results to redraw boundaries for their congressional and state legislative districts based on population.  Local Officials use census data to assist and improve public safety and emergency management systems.  Census data also is used by businesses and developers to help make determinations on where to locate factories, offices, and stores.  

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, it will be easier than ever to respond to the 2020 Census as you will be able to respond online in addition to responding by mail or phone.

Although it is your civic duty to respond to the census, many people are concerned that participation could result in your personal information being shared.  However, this concern is unwarranted.  Under Title 13 of the U.S. Code, the Census Bureau cannot release any identifiable information about individuals, households, or businesses, even to law enforcement agencies.  The law clearly states the information collected can only be used for statistical purposes.  In fact, a violation by a Census Bureau staff is punishable with a penalty of up to $250,000 and/or up to 5 years in prison.

I encourage everyone to participate in the upcoming 2020 census and make sure you are counted.  To learn more about the 2020 census, please visit the Census Bureau’s website at:

I hope this information is interesting and helpful.  If you have any topics you would like to have covered in this column, please contact my office by e-mail at, by phone at 491-7700 or by regular mail addressed to 319 York Street, Newport, Kentucky 41071.

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