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Fill out the census form

In case you hadn’t heard, the census is coming. Actually, it’s already here. The Census Bureau mailed out questionnaires. Every household should have received one by March 20.

Filling out these forms and returning them is important.

What’s at stake? The most obvious is that the federal government uses the census count to determine how many members each state will have in the House of Representatives.

On another level, there’s a lot of money riding on an accurate headcount. According to the Census Bureau, the federal government distributes more than $675 billion each year to states and communities based on Census Bureau data.

If you are filling out the census for your home, you should count everyone who is or will be living there as of April 1.

According to the Census Bureau website, this includes anyone — related or unrelated to you — who lives and sleeps at your home most of the time. Count roommates, young children, newborns and anyone who is renting a space in your home. If someone is staying in your home on April 1 and has no usual home elsewhere, you should count that person in your response to the 2020 Census.

As the Census Bureau says, where there are more people, there are more needs. An accurate count helps inform funding for hospitals, fire departments, schools and roads for the next 10 years.

Until this year, if you participated in the census, you filled out a paper form and mailed it in. This year, things will be a little different. You can still use pen and paper if you like, or you can submit your responses by phone or online.

The Census Bureau says the online form takes about 10 minutes to complete. It can be accessed at 2020census.gov.

So please take a few minutes, do your community a favor and fill out the census form. You never know what’s riding on it.

* Guest editorial from the Huntington-Dispatch in Huntington, W.Va.

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