January 1st marked the countdown to the 2020 Census in which every household in the United States will be required to participate by answering a short series of question that will influence policy making and planning for the next decade.

April 1, 2020 is officially Census Day.

Information about the 2020 Census will be mailed to most addresses beginning in mid-March 2020.

Households will be able to respond to the 2020 Census online, over the phone, or through a paper questionnaire, according to information provided on the Census Bureau website. The URL for online responses will be available beginning March 2020.

In addition, census takers will be going door to door to collect data for the 2020 Census, especially if no response is received via other methods.

Census workers have already begun training to conduct the Census in Sonora, according to the Census Bureau.

As mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, our nation gets just one chance each decade to conduct a national head count of its population. The census provides the only official head count.

The 2020 Census is expected to count a more diverse and growing population than in past years, estimated to be about 330 million people in more than 140 million housing units nationwide, according to the Census Bureau. This year, thousands of census takers will help to conduct the count.

Sutton County had a total population of 4,128, according to the 2010 Census. The census also showed an almost equal distribution of male and females with 2,029 males (49.9 percent) and 2,099 females (50.1 percent. Additionally, the census showed a predominantly white population of 3,662. The rest of the population included Hispanic, Black, American Indian and Asian.

To get an accurate count, the Census Bureau has been working to build an accurate address list of every housing unit, maximize self-response to the census, and efficiently follow up with those who do not respond.

Data collected by the census will be used to determine the number of seats each state, such as Texas, has in the U.S. House of Representatives (a process called apportionment) as well as distribute billions in federal funds to individual states and their local communities.

The Census Bureau is expected to announce the new population counts by December 31, 2020, as that is the bureau’s deadline for sending numbers for the reapportionment of congressional seats, which goes into effect beginning with the 2022 elections.

Public Law 94-171 requires the Census to provide state legislatures with the small area census population tabulations necessary for legislative redistricting.

That means communities like Sonora could see changes in its districts based upon population changes in those districts. Respectively, the representation of those districts could change. District leaders could find themselves overseeing more or fewer constituents within their region of representation.

Earlier this past year, local leaders took measures to ensure redistricting would be handled if and when it becomes necessary.

Responding to the census is required of all persons living in the United States.

Everyone over the age of 18 who refuse to answer all or part of the census can be fined up to $100, according to United States Code, Title 13 (Census), Chapter 7 (Offenses and Penalties), Sub Chapter II. Individuals who give false answers are subject to a fine of up to $500.

Editor’s Note: Thomas Jefferson led the first census in 1790 which included six basic questions: name of head of family and the number of persons in each household in five categories. From 1790 to 1820, the census counted the population as of the first Monday in August every decade. The census moved to June in 1830, April 15 in 1910, and January 1 in 1920. “Census Day” has been April 1 since 1930, According to the Census Bureau.