By Tyler Buchanan

Ohio Capital Journal

Ohioans are being encouraged to make productive use of their time spent at home by completing the U.S. Census. 

The census, undertaken every 10 years, happens to be coinciding with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, residents can fill out the Census form online, by phone or through the mail.

Here are a few things to know about the census:

The Census Bureau is reaching out to Americans by mail this month.

The government is in the process of sending out initial mailers to all Americans. For most, this first mailer is merely a reminder and invitation to begin the process online or by phone.

Those who don’t respond online or by phone in the ensuing weeks will end up getting the full census questionnaire in the mail. 

Other residents in areas considered “less likely to respond online” may receive the full questionnaire during the first contact.

Americans have flexibility for how they can fill out the census.

As mentioned, the census can be filled out by mail, online or by phone.

  • Mail — The full questionnaires will include a return envelope with an address to a Census Bureau processing center in Jefferson, Indiana or Phoenix, Arizona. 
  • Online — Visit 2020census.gov to complete the census form online. The form must be completed in one sitting. You will receive a confirmation page to indicate you are finished.
  • Phone — Americans are invited to call 844-330-2020 to complete the questionnaire by phone. There are other phone numbers available to respond in other languages besides English; a list is available online here

However it is conducted, respondents should know to count everyone who lives in a given home as of April 1, 2020.

Americans are encouraged to take the census by any of these three ways sometime in the next few months.

For those who do not, census workers will go door-to-door in May and June to conduct an in-person count. (This timeline may end up being pushed back due to COVID-19.)

The decennial census is conducted to track the American population; to reapportion congressional districts; and to determine federal funding, among other reasons.

Tyler Buchanan is an award-winning journalist who has covered Ohio politics and government for the past decade. A Bellevue native and graduate of Bowling Green State University, he most recently spent 6 1/2 years as a reporter and editor of The Athens Messenger and Vinton-Jackson Courier newspapers. He is a member of the BG News Alumni Society Board and was a 2019 fellow in the Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism. Read more Ohio Capital Journal stories here.