For the past two weeks, people throughout the country have been getting surveys in the mail from the U.S. Census Bureau, and they might be wondering what that's all about.
After all, it’s still the middle of 2019, and next year’s census is months away.
But make no mistake, it’s still an important and necessary survey to take if you got it in the mail, even if it’s not the actual census.
The survey is a test to help the bureau better prepare and plan for next year’s census, from questioning to collecting responses from addresses that don’t self-respond.
In particular, there is one question on the survey that has drawn controversy.
The bureau and Trump administration are asking every American household to record which members of their family are U.S. citizens.
There were 480,000 surveys sent out since the middle of June, with one version including that citizenship question and another version that didn’t.
The question on the survey prompted a lawsuit against the bureau from a group of 14 states, and the case is still waiting for a verdict from the U.S. Supreme Court whether or not the question can legally be asked on the mandatory census next year.
Those in favor of having the question on the census, particularly the government, feel it will provide more accurate information about who is living in the United States.
Those against it feel it will scare off millions of immigrants who live in the country from filling out surveys, which will greatly affect the count.
An accurate census count is essential for community funding, taxes and representation in government.
So while the litigation over the citizenship question plays itself out, there’s still the most important aspect of the survey for those who get it in the mail: You HAVE to fill it out by July 1.
It’s against the law not to, and not filling it out will likely mean a census worker will be coming to your door.