2020 Census Action Kit

August 2019-September 2020


In Brief

  • The 2020 census survey will attempt to count every person who resides in Minnesota.

  • Minnesota uses the census to secure full political representation, fair federal funding, and accurate data for government and business planning.

  • Minnesota might lose an Electoral College vote and representation in the U.S. House of Representatives if we do not get a full and accurate count.

  • April 1, 2020 is Census Day, but the U.S. Census Bureau will solicit census survey responses and verifications from March 2020 through September 2020.

  • Significant challenges may cause an undercount in Minnesota communities.

  • The Minnesota State Demographic Center is the state agency responsible for educating Minnesotans about the census and coordinating activity. They rely on community partnerships to get the work done.

  • You and your community can use this Census Action Kit to implement a plan in your local community to ensure a complete count.

This action kit is intended to gather information and resources from other national and state organizations so Minnesotans do not have to do intensive research on their own or reinvent the wheel. There are a wide range of actions members of the public and local LWVs can take to support a successful 2020 census in Minnesota.

A complete and accurate count will not happen without your support! Use this Census Action Kit to educate members of your community and ensure that every household in your community completes the census survey confidently.

Part 1: Get Informed

Learn the basics of the census

Use our issue summary and additional resources to learn more about the importance of the census and its impact on Minnesota’s communities.

Identify Historically Undercounted Communities in Your Local Area

You can work with other nonprofit organizations, local governments, public officials, or other members of your local Complete Count Committee to determine where these communities are located in your area. Once you have identified these communities, you can then target outreach and assistance to them. (Remember, in Minnesota, we call these groups of people “historically undercounted communities,” not “hard to count.”)

  • Use this interactive map to see where these communities are located within your area.

  • See our issues summary page to learn who – demographically – are the historically undercounted communities.

  • Read this summary report from the Census Bureau summarizing barriers and strategies for historically undercounted communities. A detailed report is identified in the references on barriers, attitudes, and motivations for census participation.

  • Learn about communication and mobilization strategies for historically undercounted communities. Research has identified 11 common themes for message content tailored specific to Minnesota.

    Note: Be sure to work with organizations that already serve or work with these communities. Government entities and large parts of society have previously exploited or abused many historically undercounted communities. As a result, many of these communities may distrust the government or outside groups. In order to mobilize these communities effectively and equitably, be sure to work with groups with established knowledge, relationships, and credibility with historically undercounted communities (“trusted messengers”). In other words, you should do census education and mobilization with these communities, not to these communities.

Part 2: Ensure the Integrity of the Census

What Not To Do

  • Do not go door to door to collect census data or responses yourself. This will create confusion for individuals who have not yet responded to the census survey. Instead, allow census enumerators to do this work. Additionally, the law protects the security and privacy of data that census enumerators collect. The law does not protect that data if others collect the information.

  • Do not respond to census surveys for households that are not your own or encourage others to respond to census surveys for others, especially without their knowledge. This will create confusion and may be illegal. Instead, provide resources to others to complete their own surveys or assist them in completing their survey with them.

  • Do not encourage others to break the law, ignore census surveys or enumerators, or intentionally provide misinformation to the census survey.

Remain Vigilant for Misinformation

If you believe someone is providing incorrect information to people in your community, please contact LWVMN. We can get you connected to the right people to correct the misinformation and to prevent the misinformation from spreading.

Ensure that the confidentiality and security of the census is clear and respected

See the section below on “Calming Fears about Privacy, Security and Citizenship” for more information.

Part 3: Take Action

Option 1 — Join or Start a Complete Count Committee

Forming or joining a local Complete Count Committee (CCC) is the primary way communities are taking action to ensure a complete count. CCCs are a formal method of connecting the regional offices of the Census Bureau, the Minnesota Demographic Center, and local community partners. By organizing activities through these networks, Minnesotans can develop clear and coordinated action plans in and with their local communities. This collaboration avoids duplication, confusion, and conflict.

LWVMN is a member of the statewide CCC. LWVMN built this Census Action Kit significantly based on the resources, information, and work done by both the Minnesota Census Mobilization Partnership and the State Complete Count Committee.

Local CCCs create awareness in communities across the state and play a key role in developing partners to educate and motivate residents to participate in the 2020 census. For any actions you take regarding the census, we strongly recommend collaborating with your local Complete Count Committee. Doing so will maximize the reach and effectiveness of your work!

Note: Make sure your CCC includes organizations that already serve or work with historically undercounted communities. In order to mobilize these communities effectively and equitably, be sure to work with trusted messengers who have established knowledge, relationships, and credibility with historically undercounted communities. Again, you should do census education and mobilization with these communities, not to them.

Option 2 — Get Funded

Once you’re part of a Complete Count Committee (CCC), consider getting additional funding to support CCC activities. The Minneapolis Foundation is administering state-funded grants to support CCCs. The grants will be approved on a first come, first served basis. For grant amounts and requirements, click below:

Option 3 — Work for the Census Bureau & Recruit Workers

You can help ensure a complete count in Minnesota and earn money too! The Census Bureau is hiring hundreds of people across Minnesota for a large variety of jobs. Encourage individuals with particular knowledge, experience or relationships with historically undercounted communities to apply. If you or someone you know applies to work for the census, be on the lookout for a call from the Census Bureau or Chicago as a follow-up.

Option 4 — Pass a Local Ordinance to Help Census Workers Get Responses

Coming soon!

Option 5 — Conduct Educational Events & Outreach Programs

You can work with other nonprofit organizations, local governments, public officials, or other members of your local CCC to hold educational events like town halls, presentations, speaker panels, or workshops. If you are uncertain about groups to work with, consider contacting the nearest Complete Count Committee. If planning your own event, consider including “trusted messengers” to participate.

These events could include:

  • Explain how to get involved with a local CCC

  • Educate the public on the census and FAQs using the informational materials available in this Census Action Kit and our issue summary page

  • Promote the use of this Census Action Kit by others

  • Work with organizations that already serve historically undercounted communities to do outreach directly with those communities

  • Host a public dialogue workshop about the importance of the census and how members of the community can help reach a complete count (Campus Compact designed this discussion guide for college students, but you can adapt it to almost any group)

  • Identify and educate the community on how federal funding comes to your local community based on the census

  • Host Census Solutions Workshops to collaborate on problem-solving barriers to a complete count

  • Hold a Census Day of Action

You can also attend or “piggyback” onto other existing events to do education and outreach. You can sit at a table or a booth with materials (“tabling”). You also can walk around with clipboards, pass out information to people who are interested, remind people to fill out their census survey, and answer any questions (“clipboarding”). Be sure to get permission to be present from the organizers of these events. Examples of these events include:

  • Parades

  • Farmers’ Markets

  • County Fairs

  • Art Fairs

  • Community Gatherings

  • Public Meetings of Government Bodies

  • Music Concerts

  • Voter Registration Activities

  • Cultural Festivals

  • Faith Based civic events

  • County/Local Library programs

  • Senior Living facilities and Senior Centers

  • Hobby or Professional Conventions

  • College and Technical School Campuses

Option 6 — Calm Fears About Privacy, Security & Citizenship

As part of your outreach, you can answer frequent questions about personal privacy, data security, and the citizenship question.

  • Under federal law, the Census Bureau must not release any information that identifies specific individuals or households. The law also states that census survey responses must only be used for statistical purposes. No person may use census survey responses for other purposes, including immigration enforcement agencies or determining eligibility for government benefits.

  • Federal law also punishes any person who violates that confidentiality with a criminal penalty of up to $250,000 and/or up to 5 years in prison.

  • The National Archives may not release census records until 72 years after the census to support historical research. 2020 census data would not be available to the public until 2092.

  • The Census Bureau collects survey responses through a secure portal, encrypts the responses, and protects the responses with firewalls and other security measures. The Census Bureau then secures the data with two-factor authentication, which means anyone who wants to access the information must provide two types of verification that they have authorization to do so.

  • As of July 2019, the Census Bureau will not ask a question about citizenship status the census survey.

  • The Census Bureau will never ask for your full social security number, money, or full bank or credit card account numbers.

  • Remind people that if they respond to the Census it is very unlikely they will get a visit by a Census worker. If they do not respond to the Census, it is almost certain that a Census worker will contact them.

  • Learn more about census data privacy.

Option 7 — Send a Letter to the Editor

Use our issue summary and other information in this Census Action Kit to write a Letter to the Editor (LTE). Submit it to your local newspaper to encourage greater community support and engagement in the census. You can use our tip sheet for LTEs, as well as our template LTEs to get started.

How to Write an LTE

OUR LTE Templates

Coming soon!

Option 8 — Encourage People to Sign Up for Census Reminders

You can encourage Minnesotans to sign up for reminders and information regarding the census.

Receive updates from We Count MN and the MN State Demographic Center

Receive updates from League of Women
Voters of the United States

Option 9 — Spread the Word on Social Media

Tell others about census resources via social media! You can copy and paste these examples into Facebook posts, or click the buttons below to tweet the messages directly on Twitter.


Social Media Example 1

Census Day is April 1, 2020! Responding to your census survey empowers your community politically and financially. Check out this resource from @lwvminnesota to learn more! #WeCountMN #2020Census #CountMeIn

Social Media Example 2

The census empowers you and your community. Move your family and neighbors forward with more resources for better schools, job assistance, and public services! Learn more from @lwvminnesota. #WeCountMN #2020Census #CountMeIn

Social Media Example 3

The census is a path to power for you and your neighbors. Have questions about it? Check out these videos from @MN_StateData and @tpt! #WeCountMN #2020Census #CountMeIn

Additional Resources

Minnesota-Specific Census Information

Identifying and Addressing Historically Undercounted Communities


Detailed Analyses and Reports