It’s hard to get too excited about the U.S. Census, considering the next one is still six months away.

But the importance of participating in the once-a-decade survey can’t be stressed enough. By taking part, one person can help make their community better for all.

The census process used to be completed primarily through the mail and by door-to-door canvassing of households, but will be conducted in 2020 mostly over the internet. Over 80 percent of the population will file a survey online, through their smartphone, or on a computer at home or at the library.

Paper forms will still be mailed to those who don’t have online access, and some can complete the process via telephone. If all other methods fail, census workers will knock on your door.

The timeline is now set. The online self-response will become available in March 2020, and April 1 has been declared Census Day, the date the nationwide tally “officially” begins.

Between now and then, “complete count committees,” like the one forming now in Hancock County, will remind people of the importance of the upcoming head count.

The stakes are high both on the state and local levels. That’s because each year, the federal government doles out $675 billion in funding based on population and housing data that is gleaned from surveys.

In Ohio, it’s estimated that each person who goes uncounted could cost the state $1,814. Undercounting the population means certain programs and services in Hancock County could be underfunded. In turn, fewer grants could be available for road projects, schools, and health care.

It’s not just about funding, though. The census is also an important factor in determining boundaries of the nation’s congressional districts, which will be redrawn in 2021 based on next year’s population data.

While there is still a pending issue involving a citizenship question that the Trump administration hopes to add to the census survey, no one should be confused about the task ahead. It’s really pretty simple: If you reside in the United States, make sure you get counted.

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