The 2019 census test commences this week whilst 480,000 housing units across the nation receive a questionnaire testing the operational effects of including a citizenship question on the 2020 census.

The Census Bureau’s 2019 census test will randomly assign households to two panels and ask them to respond to the 2020 census questions — Panel A includes the question on citizenship, while Panel B doesn’t. 

 

The U.S. Commerce Department announced in March 2018 that they will include a question on the 2020 census asking respondents whether they are U.S. citizens, to help enforce the Voting Rights Act. 

 

The question on citizenship status was reinstated into the census questionnaire, subsequent to a request by the Department of Justice to add a question on citizenship status to the 2020 decennial census. 

 

The question on citizenship is identical to the one asked yearly on the American Community Survey (ACS), which have been included on former decennial censuses. 

 

“Between 1820 and 1950, almost every decennial census asked a question on citizenship in some form. Today, surveys of sample populations, such as the Current Population Survey and the ACS, continue to ask a question on citizenship,” the Commerce Department announced in March 2018.

 

The 2020 census is also the first time that any federal government statistical agency applies the rule of differential privacy to prevent unauthorized disclosure of confidential data through the 2020 Decennial Response Processing System, with the differential privacy algorithm implemented in a system called the Disclosure Avoidance System (DAS).