Chaffee County map

A map of Chaffee County and surrounding areas indicates different approaches for the 2020 census. Dark areas indicate where the U.S. Census Bureau will, for the most part, be mailing out reminders to residents to fill out a census questionnaire online, while light areas indicate where census workers will more likely be going door-to-door.

The 2020 U.S. census will begin in March, and unlike the 2010 census most information will be gathered online, Brian Meinhart, Census Bureau partner specialist, said Wednesday.

Representatives from Salida, Buena Vista, Poncha Springs, Chaffee County, Colorado Mountain College, school districts, Colorado Department of Corrections and other organizations attended the meeting Wednesday to see how they could assist the Census Bureau in gathering information.

Meinhart said this year, instead of mailing questionnaires to each household, the bureau will send information on how to log onto Census2020.gov and fill out the form online.

The reasoning behind going online, Meinhart said, was because it was cheaper than printing and mailing physical copies of the questionnaire, and they could track responses in real time, giving the Census Bureau a more accurate picture of who has responded.

The online form will be available in both English and Spanish. Assistance is also available by telephone in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Russian, Arabic, Tagalog, French, Haitian Creole and Portuguese.

It’s estimated that about 95 percent of the population will receive the informational letter.

The remaining 5 percent fall into different situations, such as someone who gets their mail at a post office box, multiple households at the same address, like an apartment building or assisted living facility, or someone living a transient lifestyle.

Meinhart said a residence is defined as where someone lives for six months plus one day of the year. If someone does not fit into this category, it is where they are living on April 1, 2020.

Reminders will be sent out, with a final reminder going out at the end of April, but Meinhart said once a household has filled out the survey, it should not continue receiving reminders.

The online questionnaire, which Meinhart said takes about 10 minutes to fill out, needs to be completed all at one time. If someone cannot complete it or loses their internet connection, they can fill it out again but will have to start from the beginning.

Those without an internet connection will be able to request a physical copy, speak to someone on the phone who will assist them in completing it or talk to a census worker face-to-face.

Census workers will begin going door-to-door May 9 to contact households who have not yet filled out their form, or who fall into the 5 percent who were not mailed their information, and will continue through July 24, with July 31 being the last day a form can be submitted.

Meinhart said the Census Bureau will never ask anyone for their Social Security number, any bank account information or money or donations or any questions regarding political parties.

He said if someone identifies themselves as representing the Census Bureau and asks any of those questions, you should contact law enforcement.

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