The 2020 U.S. Census will soon get underway in Grayson County. Official census takers have been seen around the county preparing for the count.


Here are five things to know about the federal government’s historic population count, from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Grayson County Sheriff’s Office.


1. 2020 Census and the U.S. Census Bureau


The U.S. Census Bureau is the federal government’s largest statistical agency and provides facts and figures about America’s people, places, and economy. The agency is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce and employs roughly 4,300 employees.


The 2020 Census is designed to count the American population across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the five U.S. territories: Puerto Rico; American Samoa; the U.S. Virgin Islands; Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.


The U.S. Constitution requires that a population and housing census be carried out every ten years and the count has been conducted each decade, since its inception in 1790. The 2020 Census marks the federal government’s 24th official count of the U.S. population.


2. What data does the census collect and how does the Bureau gather it?


The census is essentially a headcount of every man, woman and child who lives in the U.S., as well as a breakdown of the people and demographics under each American roof. The count includes all American citizens and all undocumented individuals living in the United States. No question regarding an individual’s citizenship status will appear on this year’s census.


Traditionally, the census reaches residences in the form of a written questionnaire, but this year the Census Bureau will also accept responses by phone and email. Americans are required by law to complete the questionnaire and submit their responses. Door-to-door census takers will visit residences which have not submitted responses.


But federal law also protects census respondents’ privacy. For 72 years, the Census Bureau cannot release any identifiable information about an individual, their home or their business, — not even to law enforcement. Census data and answers cannot be used against a person by any government agency or court. After 72 years, census records are released to the National Archives and Records Administration and are made accessible to the public.


3. How does the census and participation impact the community?


Census results help determine how billions of dollars in federal funding are allocated to states and communities each year. This impacts everything from health clinics, schools and emergency services to transportation and infrastructure. The results also determine how many seats in Congress each state gets and are used by state and local officials to draw boundaries for congressional, state legislative, and school districts.


Accurate representation and resource allocation is dependent upon the responses of each and every person living in America.


4. Grayson County’s census timeline


In February and March, census enumerators will conduct group quarters counts at sites such as nursing homes, college dorms and assisted living facilities.


Then on March 9, the public website dedicated specifically to Grayson County census information, goes live. The web address is https://www.grayson2020census.com.


From March 13-20, official U.S. Census questionnaires arrive in Grayson County residential mailboxes, and in May, official U.S. Census takers begin door-to-door efforts to contact residence, which have not yet responded to questionnaires.


The deadline to submit census questionnaire responses is in July.


5. Information and security


During the 2020 Census, the Bureau will never ask respondents for their Social Security number, request bank or credit car numbers, seek money or donations, or solicit anything on behalf of a political party. Respondents have the option to submit their answers in writing, by phone or by email this year, but the Bureau itself will not reach out via phone or email.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s website, door-to-door census takers and field representatives will present an ID badge which includes their photograph, a Department of of Commerce watermark and an expiration date. Census takers will operate between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. and carry official, agency-branded bags and electronic devices, such as a laptops, tablets, and smartphones. To verify the presence and activity of official U.S. Census Bureau takers in a specific area, call 1-800-852-6159.


For more information about the 2020 U.S. Census, visit https://www.2020census.gov/. For questions specific to the 2020 U.S. Census in Grayson County, send an email to info@grayson2020census.com.


Drew Smith is a reporter for the Herald Democrat. Contact him at asmith@heralddemocrat.com