Every 10 years, the U.S. government conducts a thorough count of the country’s population. The next Census, as this count is known, will take place in the spring of 2020. In 2010, the count reached 309 million.
The decennial Census, which is mandated by the U.S. Constitution, is about much more than compiling a demographic snapshot of our nation. It is about the allocation of power and money.
The 435 voting seats in the House of Representatives are fixed by law and proportionally represent the population of all 50 states, with each member of the House representing a set number of constituents. After the 2010 Census, Georgia gained one seat. The Peach State was one of only eight states that added representatives in Congress, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Congressional representation is also consequential because the number of a state’s representatives in Washington, D.C., factors into the all-important electoral votes that determine who gets to be president.
How tax dollars from Washington are allotted to states is also derived from Census numbers. Data from the decennial count determines the geographic distribution of about $900 billion dollars in federal funds. The biggest federal program that benefits Georgians is Medicaid, followed in order by federal student loans, food stamps (SNAP), Medicare part B, highway construction and Pell Grants, says a George Washington University report. Other programs include school lunch and breakfast programs; Head Start; WIC; low-income housing tax credits; Section 8 housing vouchers; community development grants; and many more.