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Census 2020 kicks off today in remote Alaskan town of Toksook Bay

Residents in this small town are the first to be counted before Census Day begins on April 1.

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Toksook Bay, Alaska

Census Bureau

Census Day, the day when the majority of US residents will have received notice to participate in the 2020 census, isn't observed until April 1. But for the people living in Toksook Bay, Alaska, the census officially begins today. The small fishing village marks the beginning of the country's endeavor to count every individual in its populace, which takes place every 10 years. Data from the census is used to allocate funding for state governments, establish boundaries for redistricting and determine the number of seats a state receives in Congress.

Toksook Bay is about a four-hour plane ride west of Anchorage. According to the 2010 census, it's home to about 600 people, most of whom identify as American Indian and Alaska Native. Census takers must start now in January to, "get a head start while the frozen ground allows easier access to remote areas with unique accessibility challenges," according to the Census Bureau. The remaining population of Alaska will be counted in the beginning of March, along with the rest of the country.

As the census continues to roll out this year, the Census Bureau is heavily relying on technology to gather data and get the word out. To discourage the spread of false information, the agency enlisted the help of Facebook, Google and Twitter. In December, Facebook announced it will ban users who post misinformation about when, where and how to participate in the census.

A lot of the Bureau's efforts take place well before April 1. Other key dates for the 2020 census that may impact you include:

  • March 12 - 20: Households will begin receiving information on how to respond to the census online, by phone or by mail.
  • March 30 - April 1: Census Bureau will count people who are experiencing homelessness.
  • April 1: Census Day. At this point, every home will receive an invitation to participate in the census.
  • April: Census takers will begin visiting college housing centers, senior centers and other group living arrangements.
  • May - July: Census takers will begin visiting homes that haven't responded to the 2020 Census.