2020 Census and Voting Resources
This past August, the U.S Census Bureau announced its plan to move up the deadline for responses to the 2020 census from October 31 to September 30. As of August 17, about 63% of households nationwide have responded to the census; the remaining households are known as “hard-to-reach” and are disproportionately low-income and young people, those with disabilities, people of color, and immigrants.
By moving up the deadline for the census, it becomes more likely that these hard-to-reach communities will not be included in the census count, an outcome that will seriously limit the financial and political power of these already underrepresented communities for years to come. It is also another example of a larger pattern of excluding members of our communities. On September 28, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced that he intends to conclude the 2020 census on October 5, more than three weeks earlier than expected after a federal judge reinstated the October 31 end date. Then on October 13, the Supreme Court ordered that the Trump administration can end counting for the 2020 census by October 15. Read how the census will continue to have an impact, even when the counting is done.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, many states have also made changes to their mail-in voting policies. Twenty-seven states and Washington, DC have in some way expanded voter access to mail ballots for the 2020 general election. As of now, at least three-quarters of all American voters will be eligible to receive a ballot in the mail in November, the most in U.S. history.
However, recent issues with the U.S. Postal Service and problems with mail-in voting during some state primary elections have led voters to be confused about how to vote during the 2020 election, leading to fears of voter suppression amongst certain communities, including immigrants and people of color.
At Welcoming America, our core belief is that the strongest communities are ones that actively encourage the participation and inclusion of all residents, especially those that are deemed “hard-to-reach”. We cannot truly be welcoming until we ensure that every single person is counted, no matter how long it takes. To help ensure the census is fair and accurate for all, and that everyone who wants to is able to vote in the 2020 election, we have compiled a list of resources, action steps, and examples from our Welcoming Network members and partners to help you promote census participation and voting in your community.
- Official voting information directly from your state’s elections website (Nonprofit Vote)
- Healthy Voting
- Count Every Vote social media graphics
- Get out the vote 101 for nonprofit staff (PDF)
- Asian Americans Advancing Justice: Elections Resources
- Chat or Text with Election Protection Social Media Toolkit
- Voting Rights messaging guide (Rethink Media)
- Can I Vote? (National Association of Secretaries of State)
- Nearly 300,000 Immigrants Won’t Become U.S. Citizens In Time For the 2020 Election (Boundless)
- NBC News’ state-by-state voting guide
- A Voting Expert Explains Why You Can Trust The 2020 Election (Unite America)
What the Welcoming Network is Doing
Here are examples of some of the socially-distant actions our Welcoming Network members have taken to raise awareness and promote participation of the census and voting in their communities:
Actively remove barriers to voting: Nebraska Appleseed advocated for early mailing of ballots, restoring the voting rights of people with felony convictions, and alternative ways to send in online voter registration forms.
Form a nonprofit coalition to drive voter registration: The New York Immigration Coalition joined 12 nonprofits in the New York area to expand voter education, registration, and mobilization.
Create and share an election media library: Global Detroit offers a 2020 election media library on its website with graphics and messaging to share on social media.
Host a voter participation forum: The Northwest Arkansas Council teamed up with Arkansas Secretary of State John Thurston and EngageNWA to provide an overview of how the state plans to keep voters safe on Election Day.
Organize a census parade: The City of Nashville partnered with The Equity Alliance and The 200 Man Stand to hold a Census Parade to spread information and awareness and encouraged local residents to participate in the 2020 census in historically underserved communities.
Spread awareness at community events: Montgomery County recruited volunteers to help encourage census participation at food distribution and other community events across the county by encouraging households to respond to the census while they wait in line to receive boxes of food or other services. Latino Memphis also encouraged census participation as community members picked up free boxes of food and supplies.
“Census Sundaes”: Hartford Public Library offered its community members free ice cream as a way to encourage residents to learn more about how to complete the census while enjoying a sweet treat.
Teach socially-distant classes: The City of Boston Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement held weekly socially-distanced classes throughout Boston during the month of August to answer questions and help residents access the census in over 13 languages.
Write an op-ed: Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson wrote an op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune explaining why the census is so vital and urging residents to respond by the September 30 deadline.
Host a “Call Out the Count” event: YMCA of Greater New York joined other local community partners to organize a phone banking series that allowed volunteers to patch New Yorkers who have not responded to the census yet directly to the Census Bureau. The event also included special guests to excite and motivate volunteers.
Create an interactive “Census Champions” map: The City of Louisville created a “Census Champions” map that lists sites and services offered by local “Census Champions”, trusted community members that will share census information through a grassroots, neighbor-to-neighbor approach, provide trainings and/or computer access, and other supports.
Census Resources (Archived)
- Census Counts’ Census 101 Fact Sheet
- Census Counts’ Strategic Guidance and Talking Points
- Census Counts’ Get Out the Count Outreach and Best Practices
- City University of New York hard-to-count map
- New CUNY Maps Comparing 2010 and 2020 Self Response Rates
- “Six Ways the 2020 Census Will Change your Life” (Popular Science)
- “Why a Shorter Census Timeline Hurts Immigrant Communities“ (American Immigration Council)
- Another Voice: Every New Yorker must fight to be counted in census
- Census Counts’ Text Bank
- Census Counts’ Google Folder of Response Resources and Coalition Templates
- Census Counts’ Phone Banking Script
- Census Counts’ Hill Talking Points for Legislative Advocacy to Support our Case for an Extension of the Apportionment and Redistricting Deadlines
- Center for American Progress “Tell Your Senators to Save the 2020 Census” online form
- Center for American Progress “Save the Post Office” online form
- New American Voters 2020’s Interactive Voting Information Map
- Census 2020: A Call for Nonprofit Action—Before It’s Too Late! (Liz Moore)