A presentation this week aims to educate community members about the 2020 census and why it matters.

The Brighton/Howell unit of the League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area is inviting the public to the event, which will be held Thursday at the Howell Carnegie District Library. The goal of the presentation, called "The 2020 Census: Count Every Person. Once. In the Right Place", is to inform attendees about the purpose of the census and how it affects citizens. The presentation will feature Margaret Leary, the Librarian Emerita from the Michigan Law School, who says she will discuss components of the census like who conducts it, and when and where it will happen.

Leary says the census is more than just a head count, noting that it provides a picture of the nation that helps to determine issues like development, how federal funding is distributed and how congressional seats are apportioned. She notes the information gathered will be used within the state of Michigan by the new citizen redistricting commission to draw state House and Senate districts, and locally help draw school districts. Leary says the information is also used by government agencies to distribute federal money and to make decisions regarding development by seeing where the population is growing or diminishing. She adds the data is used by agencies like nonprofits or academics researching population demographics.

Leary feels one misunderstanding about the census is that the information obtained from it might be shared outside of the government, or be shared within the government for purposes that people might be afraid of. She says the Census Bureau "absolutely values the confidentiality of every piece of information that they gather", and that they have to release the data in some form for it to be purposeful, but they would never release data about an individual or individual household, or any group smaller than a few thousand. Leary notes that the Bureau releases individual information only after 72 years have passed since the census was taken.

Thursday’s presentation will run approximately 25 minutes long and there will be time afterward for attendees to ask questions and network. Resources from the Census Bureau and sources for more information will also be available. The event begins at 6:30pm and will be held in the library’s Meabon Room. Details can be found at the attachment below. (DK)