The Columbia Public Library and the League of Women Voters of Columbia-Boone County cosponsored a Lunch & Learn program Tuesday to discuss the importance of the upcoming 2020 census.
The league works to educate Columbia residents on the importance of voting and other ballot-related issues. It holds events focused on educating voters at least once a month. This month's event focused on next year's census, which will be used to distribute federal funds and determine congressional seats for each state. As a result, the league hopes educating people on the importance of the census will encourage them to participate.
Meredith Donaldson, membership chair of the league, said participating in the census allows the country to fairly and accurately count people.
"We traditionally have undercounted in areas where we desperately need a share of the federal funds," Donaldson said.
Bill Elder, former director of MU's Office of Social and Economic Data Analysis, spoke at the event about the confidentiality of the census, which is protected by Title 13 of the U.S. Code. He wanted to assure people that their answers submitted in the census would remain confidential.
"The information you submit to the census is protected by federal law, and it's a very strict law," Elder said. "People can have confidence that when they submit their data to the census, it's being protected."
Donaldson said participating in the census is similar to voting in that it is important for democracy.
"I think the census, I can't say it's more important than voting, but when you talk about federal money, your share of representation and your share of federal money, that has a profound impact that people need to understand," Donaldson said.