Make sure to take part in 2020 census!

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April 16, 2020

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I hope all of you and your families are coping well during this difficult time caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. I know it has been a very challenging period for many.

Over the past several weeks, we’ve seen two types of important messages from the U.S. government. Of course, one has been how to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The other also is very important, but it might not get everyone’s attention as much as the pandemic. That other message is for everyone to take part in the 2020 census.

History of the census

Every 10 years, the federal government conducts a national census. In fact, Article I, Section II of the U.S. Constitution calls for a census to be taken every decade, in a year ending with zero. This nationwide project involving all Americans has taken place since 1790, just three years after the Constitution was written by our Founding Fathers.  

What the census accomplishes

The census collects important information for communities across our state. It helps the federal government make funding determinations for more than 100 programs, from Medicaid, to transportation, to education funding, and more. If we are undercounted, the consequences can be serious – such as fewer resources and a dramatic change in political representation – and we’ll have to live with those results for the next decade.

There are many reasons why participating in the census is important!

Participating in the census is not only a part of our civic duty, but it is also in the interests of our communities.

Collecting accurate information on everyone who lives in Washington is important to the future of our state, ensuring we receive our fair share of federal dollars for vital community programs. In 2016 alone, Washington received $16.7 billion in federal assistance, based on data collected during the 2010 census. If our census had been undercounted by 5 percent, Washington would have lost over $800 million in 2016 and more than $8 billion between the 2010 and 2020. The census is crucial in determining how many of our tax dollars come back to our community, and how many dollars stay in the other Washington.

There are other reasons why completing the census matters. Local-government officials use the census to ensure public safety and plan new schools and hospitals. Real-estate developers and city planners use the census to plan new homes and improve neighborhoods.

Not completing census could hurt central or eastern Washington in Legislature

Another key reason why the census matters involves the state Legislature. The number of people in central or eastern Washington who take part in this year’s census will have an impact on the number of legislative districts in our part of the state. Of Washington’s 49 legislative districts, 11 are located east of the Cascades. (The 14th District, which Reps. Corry and Mosbrucker and I represent, stretches west through the Columbia River Gorge into Clark County.) I don’t want to see our part of the state lose a legislative district, but this unwelcome scenario is possible unless more people in the Yakima area and other parts of eastern Washington complete the census.

Census statewide map

This map shows the census household return rate by legislative districts in our state. It shows that households in the 14th District and other eastern Washington districts have a lower return rate than Puget Sound districts.

As of early April, eastern Washington’s return rate is 44.6 percent and western Washington’s is 51.3 percent. The return rate in the 14th District is less than 40 percent. If these respective return ratios hold, our side of the mountains could lose an entire legislative district by 2022. That’s when Washington’s new legislative district boundaries will be adopted, after the state’s redistricting process is completed by the end of 2021.

The census also determines the number of representatives each state has in Congress, which can make a difference when it comes to issues important to Washingtonians.

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Taking the census is quick and easy

That’s why I urge everyone to participate in the 2020 census. You can do so online at and it’s quick and only takes about five to ten minutes. Some residents may receive a paper census form to fill out.  

As the map above shows, residents of the 14th District are participating at a lower rate than people in many other districts, especially those in the Puget Sound region. Let’s have more of us complete the census so our district winds up in the green, like some of the most populated districts of western Washington are.

The information you provide for the census will be kept private and confidential.  You can learn more about how U.S. Census Bureau protects your data here.

It’s fine if you prefer to fill out the paper census form. But please don’t go uncounted. It is in all of our best interests to ensure an accurate and full count. Everybody needs to be counted – young and old, citizens and noncitizens.

Due to coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Census Bureau is extending the deadline for completing the census to mid-August. Make sure to complete it before then!

If you are having difficulty filling out or turning in your census form, please contact my office by email at or phone at 360-786-7626.


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