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Swanson: Respond to online census, worker visit

Census never asks for bank info, donations or political affiliations

To the Editor
Beginning in 1790, and every year ending in zero since, the United States Census Bureau has undertaken the decennial census.
This year, the 2020 Census is going to be a little different. Although very few homes will receive paper questionnaires when the self-response phase begins next month, every home across Minnesota and the U.S. will receive an invitation to respond online or by phone. 
Those who do not do so will receive two more mailings (the first will have a paper questionnaire) to encourage them to self-respond by the end of April. Those who do not respond can expect to be visited by census takers beginning in May to have their questions answered at that time.
One of the most challenging groups of people to count are older adults who live in rural communities. Here are a few helpful hints to ensure their participation:
•Those who are uncomfortable using a computer should be encouraged to utilize the option to do so by phone where they will speak with a live operator.
•Those who may need assistance completing their questionnaire electronically should be directed to their nearest library or community center. Many will be equipped with public computers (and other smart devices) and staffed with volunteers who can assist them. 
To avoid being scammed, ask questions.
Every census worker will have a picture ID with a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date that anyone can ask to see.
Census takers will also be willing to give their name(s) and the phone number of the Chicago Regional Office.
If you still have questions about their identity, you can call 800-923-8282 to speak with a local Census Bureau representative. 
And during the 2020 Census, you will not be asked for:
•Your Social Security numbers.
•Your bank account or credit card numbers.
•Money or donations.
•In addition, the Census Bureau will not contact you on behalf of a political party.
Finally, the census not only relates to how many representatives we can have in the United States Congress, but it is also tied to the annual distribution of at least $675 billion in federal funds. 
Roughly $2,800 per person per year is tied to funding for programs within our state. Every person we do not count equates to a loss of $28,000 in the upcoming decade. The census is critical to state and federally funded programs and services.
Shape your future; make sure you are counted. More information can be found at
Jason W. Swanson, HSE
Executive Director
Minnesota River Area Agency on Aging,

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