What Partners CAN AND CANNOT Do to Support Self-Response in the 2020 Census

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This post was contributed by US Census Bureau, Communications Directorate. 
A PDF version of this info sheet is available here.

For the first time, people will be able to respond to the Census online from anywhere, anytime. We already have thousands of partners working to ensure a complete and accurate count, including 2020 Census partners as well as tribal, state and local governments. The use of technology on the 2020 Census provides new opportunities to support people responding to the 2020 Census, including the ability to respond without a Census-provided identification code.

The Census Bureau welcomes this support from our partners, including:

  • Encouraging response to the Census in the mailed or hand-delivered materials from the Census Bureau;
  • Providing secure links to 2020census.gov, where people can easily respond to the 2020 Census;
  • Providing language assistance (e.g., helping a non-English speaking respondent log in to the Internet response questionnaire in the appropriate language);
  • Helping disabled people (e.g., helping a visually-impaired individual dial the appropriate telephone number to provide their responses);
  • Encouraging people to call the 2020 Census phone line to respond in English or in any of the other 12 languages available for self-response;
  • Providing access to computers and tablets at kiosks, conferences, public events, community centers, healthcare facilities, places of worship, shopping areas, and other locations so that people can respond to the Census Bureau Internet Self-Response website on the spot;
  • As always, helping people understand that responding to the 2020 Census is important and safe.

A key principle for the 2020 Census is our obligation to ensure we protect the public’s answers to the census. While we welcome assistance, for security and confidentiality reasons there are several things we do NOT want local partners, or tribal, state and local governments, to do.

No one other than Census Bureau employees should go door-to-door to collect information for the 2020 Census. Doing so could create confusion for households that have already responded or those who must be interviewed by census takers because they have not yet responded to the census. Although the majority of our census enumerators will be in the field beginning in May for the Non-Response Follow-Up operation, we will have enumerators working on a variety of operations throughout the entire self-response period.

Door-to-door canvassing may actually discourage response because it elevates concerns by residents of a potential scam, intrusion or other nefarious activity. A key component of our communications effort is to raise awareness of how to identify an official census enumerator. If the public is not sure who is knocking on their door, they will not answer.

We also do NOT want partners to:

  • Encourage anyone to respond to the census on behalf of a household that they are not part of (e.g., it is illegal to fill out a census response for your neighbor’s house, even if you believe they did not respond);
  • Create websites or apps designed to directly collect 2020 Census response data;
  • Collect data over the phone or in person with the intention of submitting to the Census Bureau.

Data collected by census takers employed by the Census Bureau is protected under Title 13 of the US Code. Census employees take an oath to ensure that respondent information is used for statistical purposes only and not for any other reason. Census employees cannot share information with anyone else, including law enforcement – not the FBI, ICE or even local police.

One thought on “What Partners CAN AND CANNOT Do to Support Self-Response in the 2020 Census

    Sherrie Taylor said:
    July 1, 2019 at 10:31 am

    Thank you for posting this – it is a great resource for the CCCs and Advisory Committees to pass along.

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