Montana State Legislature

Census 2020

The U. S. Census is coming on April 1, 2020 and states are actively preparing.  Montana state legislators can be a force in helping Montanans understand the importance of participating in the census and either going online to fill out a census form or turning in a paper form.  This website will provide information and regular updates on how legislators can participate.

See the websites linked below for information on the importance of federal funding, the need for accurate data, the potential for additional U.S. House representation, and the importance of accurate data for redistricting of the Montana House and Senate.

Census Story of the Week: Why Self-Response Matters (Montana is behind the national average!)

Time to Answer the Census:   Go to  or call 1-844-330-2020, even if you don't have a census ID#.

State, Local, Tribal, Elected and Appointed Officials 2020 Census Checklist 

Be Counted Site Guidelines Materials


NCSL's  - Differential Privacy 

NCSL has posted an Action Alert – Differential Privacy and the Census [] letter on this issue. The letter can be found on the Differential Privacy for Census Data Explained [] webpage under ‘Additional Resources.’ 

Last week NCSL held an informative webinar on differential privacy []. Here is a short description of the webinar:

The Census Bureau has initiated a new methodology, differential privacy, to protect data privacy and confidentiality. Under the law, the bureau is required to do an actual enumeration of all residents and keep all personally identifiable information confidential for 72 years. Even though there were tools and safeguards in place, the bureau detected a need to revamp their disclosure avoidance and data switching technique because of the advancement of technology, computers and data science. 

The speakers were:

  • Michael Hawes, Senior Advisor for Data Access and Privacy, U.S. Census Bureau
  • Cindy DeGroen, Demographer, Colorado Department of Local Affairs
  • Jerry Howe, Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel, Utah Legislature

If you were unable to attend, the recorded webinar is posted on the Differential Privacy and the Census [] webpage. Also, the recording has been linked here [].


From the Montana Census 2020 Newsletter


Counting Rural Montana

(2/19/20)  Montana spans more than 147,000 square miles and has an estimated population of 1.06 million people (according to 2018 Census estimates). About 44 percent or 470,000 live in rural areas of the state. The majority of Montana’s geographic area is defined by the Census Bureau as "rural" meaning most population centers have fewer than 2,500 people. 

People who live in rural areas are considered hard to count populations for several reasons.These households often do not have a typical mailing address and use post office boxes in nearby towns. The U.S. Census Bureau does not mail to P.O boxes. Instead, Census takers deliver paper questionnaires to each home in such areas, along with information about options to respond online or by phone as well as information on how to confirm and record the physical location of the home.

Rural areas are also considered hard-to-count for the 2020 Census because many do not have access to broadband and have a lower percentage of households with internet subscriptions. This lack of internet and broadband connectivity poses challenges for much of rural America. A map of hard-to-count places in Montana with low broadband coverage/internet subscription rates is shown HERE.

U.S. Census Bureau employees take extraordinary measures to reach homes that can be difficult to access in rural and remote areas, whether they are located at the top of a mountain or at the end of a mile-long gravel drive. In the 2020 Census, enumerators nationwide will go back to a household up to six times if no response has been received. 

So why does an accurate count of rural Montana matter? Census data is used to determine our fair share of federal funding for things like healthcare, schools and highways. For every person who is not counted, Montana stands to lose $20,000 over the next decade. Plus, Census data shapes our local voting districts and Montana is on the cusp of receiving a second member of Congress.


Kids Count Too 

(12/18/19)  Nationwide, “the 2010 Census missed more than 10% of young children – one in every ten children age 0-4, or about 2.2. million children” ( When young children aren’t counted it has serious consequences for them, their families, our communities, and the country. Demographers have been struggling with an explanation of why young children have a higher undercount compared to any other age group. Several recent studies are providing new answers for why young children are missed so often in the Census.

Children are more likely to be missed in a census if:

  • They live in large and complex households.
  • They live with single parents or young parents between the ages of 18-29.
  • They are not the biological or adopted child of the householder.
  • They live with their grandparents, aunts and uncles, or other family members.
  • They live in families that do not speak English or their family includes immigrants.
  • They live in lower income households.
  • The child is a newborn.
  • Their families rent rather than own their home or they have recently moved.
  • Finally, some adults may not realize that babies, toddlers and young children are supposed to be included in the Census.

How you Can Help:

  • Emphasize that the Census counts everyone where they live and sleep most of the time, even if the living arrangement is temporary or the parents of the child do not live there.
  • Explain that, when children are missed in the Census, funding for programs such as the Children Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the National School Lunch Program, and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) miss out on their fair share of federal dollars.
  • Distribute outreach materials from the State, the U.S. Census Bureau, and various organizations to help increase awareness.
  • Work with existing Complete Count Committees (CCC) or form your own specialized CCC and make sure promote messaging about counting young children.

 Information and Resources on Counting Children Can Be Found at:

Count All Kids - Partnership for America’s Children

US Census Bureau – Counting Young children in the 2020 Census

Evidence Mounts Regarding Respondent Confusion About Counting Young Children in the Census - The Census Project

Want more updates from the Department of Commerce? Subscribe to receive email updates  here.


Participation Opportunities    

  • Montana Complete Count Committees: Link to the Map

  • Montana State CCC
    Montana State Complete Count Committee (CCC) has created and is sending toolkits to partners across the state. These kits include oversized banners, stickers, magnets and large static cling stickers. The state has also made this same promo material with a specialized tribal logo. If you would like any census items for your next event please contact us

  • State CCC & CEIC Outreach
    Members of the State CCC and the Census and Economic Information Center (CEIC) staff have traveled across the state providing more than 50 2020 Census presentations to local CCCs and community groups. If you would like someone to speak or need help planning a presentation, contact the CEIC office by email or by phone (406) 841-2740.


On the website, you can find not just Montana talking points and flyers, but materials from the U.S. Census Bureau.  Recent additions include the 2020 Questionnaire and a flyer on Confidentiality.  Here are those links!


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