Following the last census an estimated one million children went unaccounted for in our representative government, according to Melissa Padilla, a specialist from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Padilla, joined by Bulldogsvote, the student-led organization that promotes student voting engagement, held a virtual workshop this Wednesday to share information on the census. This 40 minute seminar included Padilla explaining what the census is, why it’s important, and how to complete it step by step.
The United States Census has been around since 1790 for the purpose of collecting data on the population to determine money and congressional representation, which controls the influence states wield in federal politics.
Information collected on demographics and population are used to apportion congressional seats for districts, as well as where to allocate funds towards specific areas.
For example, if the census finds that an area has a significantly larger number of children than it did the previous ten years, the government will discern the necessary funds appropriate for k-12 education.
Along with educational funding for children, the last Census allocated $675 billion dollars to aids such as the pell grant, FAFSA, MediCal, and more, Padilla went on to say.
The Census asks for addresses, race, ethnicity, and family sizes. Race and ethnicity questions aid research about public policies, particularly regarding civil rights.
Data on race and ethnicity also contributes to planning and funding for government programs that provide funds or services for specific groups. While participating in the census is critical for just representation, information collected from marginalized communities tends to be lower than affluent communities.
Along with lower levels of engagement, predominantly nonwhite communities typically have lower voter turnout. Security may be a possible reason for this, but Padilla ensured everyone that the data obtained by the census is protected by U.S. Code Title 13. This title prohibits anyone (including the government) from accessing people’s personal data.
Still, census turnouts, along with voter turnouts, continue to be a problem within communities, causing underrepresentation and insufficient government aid. To alleviate this, the mission of Bulldogsvote is to help our community become more civically-engaged. Founded by Monserrat Pineda, its hope is to “bring resources to the students,” Pineda said at the beginning of the workshop.
With reference to the article by Katie Olson on the Bulldog Blog, the organization has a three-year plan to “reinvent programming, bring other clubs and organizations into the conversation, increase funding for the group, and expand efforts into the greater community in the city of Redlands.”
If you have not filled out your Census for 2020, there’s still time. Go to my2020census.gov to respond. “We’re making history this 2020,” stated Padilla.