Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway joined other city officials and community organizers at Madison College Monday to pledge support for an accurate count in the upcoming U.S. Census.
Community leaders at the event signed a pledge committing to spreading the word about U.S. Census job opportunities. The pledge also included promises to share resources and encourage participation in the census.
“It’s so critical that we all work together to assure the upcoming census count is thorough and accurate,” Mayor Rhodes-Conway stated. “The tallied numbers will influence funding and services for our residents for the next ten years. We need to get this right.”
The 2020 Census will begin in March as households receive letters inviting them to fill out the census. It will include nine questions about each person's age, gender and race. All data collected is confidential.
The census is crucial to the city as it determines the distribution of billions in federal funding. $2,000 per person in federal funding is distributed every year based on census results.
"If Madison's population was undercounted by just 10 percent, we could lose $500 million dollars," Rhodes-Conway said.
In addition to determining funding, the data collected will also be used to draw the boundaries of congressional and legislative districts.
The census follows a recent executive order from Gov. Tony Evers in January, creating a commission to draw new legislative maps without elected officials, lobbyists or consultants in the hopes of producing maps free from partisan bias.
The current maps drawn by Republican lawmakers in 2011 are so partisan, Evers stated, some lawmakers have used them to ignore the integrity and fairness of the redistricting process.
Additionally, the census calculates the number of seats each state will have in the House of Representatives — and therefore how many votes each state will have in the Electoral College.
All eyes will be on Wisconsin ahead of the 2020 election, as it’s one of a handful of the country’s pivotal swing states. In three of the past five presidential elections, Wisconsin was determined by less than one percentage point, the Washington Post reported.
While 2010’s census data will be used for the 2020 election — Wisconsin was allocated 10 votes — the 2020 census data will be used for all following presidential contests in the next decade.
As representation has been an issue in past censuses, the city is proactively working to make sure that everyone is aware of the census. All communities are encouraged to complete the census to ensure equal representation at all levels of government — this includes both documented and undocumented citizens.
“We are determined to reach out to the Latinx community and we urge others to join us,” said Centro Hispano Board member Mario Garcia Sierra. “We need to make everyone understand that the information they share with a census worker will be private. Communities of color are growing in Dane County and everyone needs to be counted.”
As students make up a significant portion of the population, all students living in Madison are encouraged to fill out the census as well.
This will be the first census available to fill out online. More information on 2020 Census outreach can be found on the City of Madison’s website.