Once every 10 years the federal government takes on the monumental task of counting every person in the country and documenting where that person lives. The result of that count is used to determine each state’s share of federal funding over the next decade. In a nutshell, more people equals more money.
Montana currently receives an estimated $2 billion in federal funds each year based on Census data (about $20,000 per resident counted). That’s a lot of dough that goes toward local highway projects, health care, schools, infrastructure and more.
The Census also shapes local voting districts and determines through apportionment how many representatives each state has in the U.S. House.
According to the Census Bureau, the framers of the U.S. Constitution decided that population was the most equitable way to determine political power, “not wealth or land.”
With a population teetering on one million, Montana is in line to regain a second seat in the House, which was lost following the 1990 Census count.
Election Data Services forecasts Montana will get the 435th seat — by a margin of just a couple thousand people — when the House seats are distributed following the 2020 Census.
Census data is also used to guide community decisions. Local governments, for example, use the information for public safety and emergency preparedness, while a business might tap into the data to decide where to open a new location.
By mid-March Montanans will receive a letter by mail or left at their door with an invitation to participate in the Census and instructions on how to fill out the form. Your participation in this Constitutionally mandated process is crucial for the future success of your state, county and town. Do you part to “be counted,” and ensure Montana is accurately represented in the 2020 Census.
Learn more about the process at www.census.mt.gov