Citizenship Question: Census 2020 will be done under the shadow of the presidential election

American flag

Mark your calendar. One year from today, the U.S. will conduct its nationwide count of every man, woman and child in the 10-year census. And for the first time, you can respond online and in one of a dozen languages other than English.

This census also will give people more detailed options when answering the question of race.

The massive outreach effort is estimated to influence some $675 billion in federal dollars by helping decide where to build roads, schools and health clinics. It also can impact the number of congressional and electoral college seats each area receives. People living inside the United States next April 1 are required by law to respond to the census, which is mandated by the Constitution, although prosecutions or fines are mostly unheard of.

Some local governments and immigrant advocacy groups have called the question discriminatory and said it would undermine the count because many people, even those in the country legally, would be reluctant to respond out of fear of deportation. Two federal judges have struck down the move, and the Supreme Court was expected to hear oral arguments on the issue later this month.

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