Montana 2020 Census Newsletter

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Census State Champ Graphic

Commerce Department Launches the 2020 Census State Championship

The Montana Department of Commerce this week launched the 2020 Census State Championship to encourage counties and tribes in Montana to compete for the highest increase in self-response rates to the 2020 Census from now until September 30. With only 14 days left in the 2020 Census count, the Commerce Department and the Montana Complete Count Committee are urging every Montana resident to respond to the 2020 Census before the shortened deadline of September 30.

“This is the final countdown for the 2020 Census,” said Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney, the Chair of the Montana Complete Count Committee. “The counties and tribes that win the 2020 Census State Championship will get not only bragging rights with a trophy to prove it, but will also receive their fair share of federal funding for the next 10 years, accurate representation in the state Legislature, and the knowledge that they contributed to the possibility of Montana regaining a second seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Game on, Montana!”

There will be two winners for counties and two winners for tribal nations based on the percentage increase in self-response rates, as well as for the increase in the number of households that respond to the 2020 Census from today until September 30. To enter the championship, Montana residents who have not yet responded to the 2020 Census can do so at MY2020CENSUS.GOV, by calling 1-844-330-2020 or by mailing in the paper form if they received one. Track each community’s progress here.

The U.S. Census Bureau suspended all field operations from March to early May to slow the spread of COVID-19, and then cut short the deadline to September 30 to respond to the Census. As a result, Montana’s self-response rate is below the national average, with 59.2 percent of Montanans having self-responded to the 2020 Census, compared to the national average of 65.9 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Even with door-to-door counting by U.S. Census workers, Montana’s overall response rate is below the national average, and tribal nations and rural counties in Montana are at risk of an undercount.

The federal government is responsible for counting all households every 10 years, while the state supports the effort to educate and promote the importance of the Census. In June, Governor Steve Bullock allocated $530,500 to the Montana Department of Commerce to continue Census education and outreach efforts.

The Montana Department of Commerce is using that funding to partner with the Montana Nonprofit Association, Western Native Voice, Forward Montana Foundation and Missoula-based marketing agency Windfall to conduct targeted outreach aimed at low self-responding areas of the state to encourage residents in those areas to fill out the Census.

For every Montanan not counted, the state stands to lose an estimated $20,000 in federal funding over the next decade. Census information is also used to draw local voting and school districts, and it determines whether Montana will receive a second seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

You can track your community’s progress in the 2020 Census State Championship here.

And respond to the 2020 Census today at MY2020CENSUS.GOV, by calling 1-844-330-2020, or by mailing in your paper Census form if you’ve received one.

Counting Montana Residents in Transitory Living and Those Experiencing Homelessness

Census worker

During September, the U.S. Census Bureau has said it will undertake two separate counting operations. Starting September 3rd, the Bureau began counting residents who live in unconventional locations including campgrounds, RV parks, marinas, hotels, motels, and racetracks. U.S. Census takers equipped with personal protective equipment (PPE) and trained to observe social distancing protocols will count residents in-person at these locations. The U.S. Census Bureau has said its counting operations in transitory locations will continue through September 28th.

Additionally, the U.S. Census Bureau has announced it will count people who are experiencing homelessness from Sept. 22 to Sept. 24. Similar to the transitory operations, U.S. Census takers will count people at shelters, soup kitchens, regularly scheduled mobile food vans and outdoor locations that were previously identified by the U.S. Census Bureau and its partners.  A listing of shelters and service organizations can be found HERE. These operations had been originally planned for March 30 – April 1 but were postponed after the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the once-a-decade national population count.

People living in transitory housing and experiencing homelessness are population groups the Bureau considers most at-risk to be undercounted. Getting an accurate population count of both is crucial to the delivery of public services. An undercount can overwhelm systems that depend on Census data in their program planning, such as emergency medical services and schools.

fill out your form today

Census Sending Emails and Calling Nonresponse Households

The U.S. Census Bureau announced it will begin emailing and calling households in low-responding areas to encourage them to respond to the 2020 Census.

Here is a LINK showing how to verify an email or text is from the U.S. Census. Be sure to take the steps to confirm before providing any information. The 2020 Census is nine questions and does not ask for your Social Security number, money or donations, anything on behalf of a political party, bank or credit card account numbers, or citizenship status.


An accurate and complete count of all Montanans is critical for determining the federal funding distributed to the state – overall, more than $2 billion from 300 federal programs is allocated back to Montana based on Census information. The Census count also shapes local voting and school districts, and it determines whether Montana will receive a second seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Montanans who have not yet responded to the 2020 Census can do so by going to MY2020CENSUS.GOV, by calling 1-844-330-2020, or by mailing in their Census form if they received one in the mail.


Montana has a lot at stake in 2020 census – MISSOULIAN

Report: Montana could lose $9.7 million per year with 1% undercount in census – GREAT FALLS TRIBUNE

Libraries in Montana helping citizens fill out census online to win another U.S. House seat - CBS News

Groups ask for restraining order to stop census wind-down – ASSOCIATED PRESS

Battered by the Virus, Tribes Race to Boost Census Count – ASSOCIATED PRESS

Census Bureau deadline to end count temporarily halted – KPAX

State urges Montanans to get counted for the census and spread the word – KTVH



These events are current as of the publication of this newsletter, but are subject to change as the U.S. Census Bureau revises its operations.

March 12 – September 30: Self-response Phase

July 31 – September 30: The U.S. Census Bureau has said it will provide Mobile Questionnaire Assistance to locations allowing residents to complete the Census on site

August 11 – September 30: Non-response follow-up (door-to-door Census counting operations)

September 3 – 28: Counting at Transitory Locations such as RV parks, campgrounds, and hotels if people do not usually live elsewhere

September 22 24: Operations to count those experiencing homeless outdoors and at service-based locations

December 31, 2020: Deliver Census Count to the President


       Montana Customized Census 2020 Resources 

       U.S. Census Bureau YouTube Channel

       U.S. Census Bureau Outreach Materials

       U.S. Census Bureau PSA Toolkit


To be routed to your local U.S. Census Bureau office, call                       
855-562-2020, select option 3, and enter your zip code. 

Reach out to a Montana Census 2020 Partnership Specialist:

Jeri Bucy
Montana Partnership Specialist
U.S. Census Bureau
Phone: (406) 302-2227

Jihan Khalaf
Montana Partnership Specialist
U.S. Census Bureau 
Phone: 406-439-3383

Laurie Cipriano
Public Information Officer
Phone: (720) 891- 2497 (Colorado)